"My Brigham Baby" Smartphone Application. Using Technology to Enhance Parent Discharge Preparedness and Promote Family Resilience in the NICU.

Principal Investigator: Carmina Erdei, MD

Authors: Madison Forde; Sara Cherkerzian, ScD; Susan Berliner, LICSW; Maria Conley; Deborah Schlehuber, RN; Carmina Erdei, MD
Lay Abstract

Objective— To assess how the family psychosocial experience evolved after the rollout of a parental-support smartphone application called My Brigham Baby App in a level-III NICU.

Methods— Responses to surveys capturing the family experience were obtained from 25 parents pre-App rollout (and before COVID-19 pandemic) and 25 parents post-App rollout (during the pandemic). Data included self-reported discharge readiness; symptoms of stress, anxiety; and parenting skill confidence. Due to few partner responses, only mothers were included in the analyses. χ2 tests were used to compare groups.

Results— Pre-and post-App rollout mothers had comparable demographics, and their infants had similar clinical characteristics during their NICU stay. There were no statistically significant differences (p<0.05) between pre-and post-App self-reported parental experiences. However, post-intervention data indicated trends toward improved parent experiences in two domains despite possible stress contagion from COVID-19 pandemic:47% of mothers post-App rollout felt well-prepared for discharge vs 24% pre-App, and 21% of mothers reported moderate-severe symptoms of anxiety post-App vs 43% pre-App rollout. Self-report of stress levels and confidence in parenting skills remained relatively stable pre-and post-App rollout.

Conclusion— Technology applications show promise in improving maternal NICU experiences despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scientific Abstract

Objective— To assess how the family psychosocial experience evolved after the rollout of a parental-support smartphone application called My Brigham Baby App in a level-III NICU.

Methods— Responses to surveys capturing the family experience were obtained from 25 parents pre-App rollout (and before COVID-19 pandemic) and 25 parents post-App rollout (during the pandemic). Data included self-reported discharge readiness; symptoms of stress, anxiety; and parenting skill confidence. Due to few partner responses, only mothers were included in the analyses. χ2 tests were used to compare groups.

Results— Pre-and post-App rollout mothers had comparable demographics, and their infants had similar clinical characteristics during their NICU stay. There were no statistically significant differences (p<0.05) between pre-and post-App self-reported parental experiences. However, post-intervention data indicated trends toward improved parent experiences in two domains despite possible stress contagion from COVID-19 pandemic:47% of mothers post-App rollout felt well-prepared for discharge vs 24% pre-App, and 21% of mothers reported moderate-severe symptoms of anxiety post-App vs 43% pre-App rollout. Self-report of stress levels and confidence in parenting skills remained relatively stable pre-and post-App rollout.

Conclusion— Technology applications show promise in improving maternal NICU experiences despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clinical Implications
The use of technology applications show promise in improving parental experience and might have a buffering effect on the psychosocial distress experienced by NICU families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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