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Neurodevelopmentally at‐Risk Infants Essay

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Updated: Jun 8th, 2022

Introduction

As neonatal intensive care improves, the likelihood of a baby delivered preterm surviving increases. Babies born preterm are at a higher risk of experiencing delays in cognitive development. Ensuring that these babies are cared for and grow in a safe environment that accounts for their unique issues, therefore, is critical. Public and professional perception of delays in cognitive delays can be negative, putting such babies at risk of worse treatment, which can ultimately lead to negative outcomes. Measures to address this issue, such as the introduction of new information programs, professional training, or policy changes, can be implemented. However, before they can be developed, research into the prevailing attitudes is necessary.

Two critical vectors of research are the attitudes towards developmental delays in a baby’s cognitive abilities of medical care professionals and parents. The former is responsible for formulating care strategies and treatment of their patients. Their attitude can also influence the critical information about caring for the baby and facilitating its development they can impart to the baby’s parents. The parents, meanwhile, provide crucial care for the baby at home, whose quality can be significantly diminished by a negative attitude. Ultimately, the views of both the parents and professionals are critical, and a clearer understanding of these views can help inform future practices related to preterm babies and their risks of developmental delays.

Overview of the Article

The article, “A journey through follow‐up for neurodevelopmentally at‐risk infants—A qualitative study on views of parents and professionals in Liverpool” was published in the Child: Care, Health and Development, volume 45, issue 6. Its first publication date is July 22, 2019. The authors of the article are Ayuko Komoriyama, Fauzia Paize, Esme Littlefair, Chris Dewhurst, and Melissa Gladstone. The purpose of the study is described as “to explore where, how and who parents get their information from regarding development and future outcomes for their infants” (Komoriyama, et al., 2019, p. 808). The study used in-depth interviews conducted with patients and health care professionals to assess their views and subjective perceptions on the subject. Purposive sampling was used to recruit both patients and professionals; specific criteria were preferred among parents, such as age, fluency in English, and age of the baby (Komoriyama, et al., 2019). As the study was conducted in the Merseyside county in the UK, it attracted a limited sample size.

The study relied on the theoretical framework of interpretative subjectivism. Under this theory, the researchers focused on their respondents’ different worldviews and perceptions of reality (Komoriyama, et al., 2019). The consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ) was followed (Komoriyama, et al., 2019). The researchers then identified three major themes in the recorded interviews, described as “what’s the future?”, “what’s the journey?” and “Who can help me?” (Komoriyama, et. al., 2019). These themes outline the general concerns of parents and professionals related to babies at risk of delays in cognitive development.

Research Design and Methodology

The study by Komoriyama, et al. contributes to the growing field of research into the relationships between health care professionals and patients. Additionally, it reflects the medical community’s increased interest in patient perceptions of health care and the search for methods that can support and empower patients as the recognition of their role in health care increases. The authors of the study point out that although the importance of providing information about caring for their child post-discharge is acknowledged, the specifics of what information should be provided and how it should be provided is underexplored (Komoriyama, et al., 2019). As such, the results of this study can be applied to develop guidelines detailing this instructional process.

In-depth reviews are generally a reliable way to collect subjective information, such as opinions, attitudes, and views. The study recruited 27 parents and 11 health care professionals in a single UK county; the limited sample size and geographical restrictions made conducting these interviews feasible and realistic (Komoriyama, et al., 2019). However, the same limitations negatively affect the study’s validity and generalizability. As the study’s research question concerns views and attitudes, in-depth interviews can be used to reveal these things directly and, as such, directly answer the research question. The inherent subjectivity of the respondents’ answers is an issue with interviews in general, as their understanding of the issue is likely to be different from that of the researcher, creating a significant limitation for the method. Thus, the validity and generalizability of the study are questionable, and although the authors acknowledge that external factors such as the baby’s age can influence the parents’ view, they do not explain whether they controlled for these factors.

Another issue is the usage of fluency in English as a criterion for inclusion in the study. The authors claim this allows to “minimize misunderstandings and miscommunication” (Komoriyama, et. al., 2019, p. 810). However, this can be seen as the exclusion of ethnocultural minorities, which can be viewed as contradictory to the tri-council guidelines’ core principle of justice. Moreover, this further limits the study’s generalizability as its results may be less applicable to populations who are not as fluent in the dominant culture’s language.

Interpretation of Findings

The research did not attempt to find correlations or causation, only identified themes in patients’ and professionals’ views. The provided interpretation points to an overall lack of information provided to parents, particularly about the long-term prospects of their child’s development; no alternative interpretations are offered. The generalizability of the research findings is not explained, but as described above, it is questionable: the limited sample size and geographic area make the research less applicable outside of a specific subset of the UK’s health care system.

Clarity

The article reflects the increased interest in the social side of health care and similar qualitative research in this field. However, the information presented in it is not always clear; as mentioned above, critical concerns about the validity and generalizability of the research are not addressed. While the authors identify three themes, they do not mention how prevalent they are or whether they correlate with factors such as the respondent’s age. Furthermore, the quotations are organized in an unclear way; the labeling system is unexplained. Thus, the information in the article is not presented in sufficient detail and clarity, and its findings are inherently subjective.

Conclusion

Overall, the study is attempting to answer an important question in health care practice. However, its interpretation is limited and, as such, presents limited value besides identifying potential areas of improvement in neonatal care. This information, by itself, is not sufficient to inform policy or guidelines and is further hampered by its limited scope. It can, however, guide and direct future research in the field by identifying areas of concern and helping to formulate more specific research questions. Ultimately, it is an initial examination of an issue whose value is in providing direction for potential future research rather than any direct practical applicability or advancement of theory.

Reference

Komoriyama, A., Paize, F., Littlefair, E., Dewhurst, C., & Gladstone, M. (2019). A journey through follow‐up for neurodevelopmentally at‐risk infants—A qualitative study on views of parents and professionals in Liverpool. Child: Care, Health and Development, 45(6), 808-814. Web.

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