Date of Award

Fall 2019

Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name



Occupational Therapy

Faculty Mentor

Trudy Mallinson, PhD


Purpose: Despite occupational therapy’s established role in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in providing family centered intervention, mothers continue to report lack of readiness to discharge home and emotional distress while in the NICU and upon discharge home. Occupational therapists have the unique skillset to promote engagement in meaningful activities and facilitate overall health and wellness for mother’s during and after their NICU stay.

Method: A qualitative survey was distributed to a convenience sample of fifteen participants to identify emotional experiences in the NICU, how these experiences impact each mother fulfilling her role as a primary caretaker, and the perception of each mothers’ self-care needs being met during the NICU stay. A thematic analysis analytic approach was used to identify themes.

Results: Key themes of supports and barriers were identified, and a health and wellness tool was created to meet the self-care needs of future mothers of infants requiring a NICU stay. Two participants who completed the qualitative survey then evaluated the health and wellness tool through focused interviews and reported the tool is something they would have liked incorporated into their plan of care and that appears to meet their selfcare needs.

Conclusion: There is an opportunity for occupational therapists to incorporate this health and wellness self-care tool into future family centered practice in the NICU in order to address the emotional needs of the mother and assist them in fulfilling their role as a primary caretaker.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


© 2019 Genevieve MacCarthy.