Our research

The Department has the following ongoing research projects:

A Framework of competencies in spiritual care: A modified Delphi study for nurses and midwives

Author: Josephine Attard (Ph.D. student)

Spiritual care was identified by nursing and midwifery educational and professional Bodies and research as an area that merits competence at point of registration. The discrepancy between the teaching of spiritual care and its delivery in clinical practice proposes the need for the development of a framework of competencies in spiritual care in order to equip nursing and midwifery students in meeting clients’ spiritual needs.

The research study adopting a mixed method approach is conducted under the supervision of the University of Glamorgan and University of Malta. The study aims to develop a set of competencies drafted from a systematic literature review and focus groups utilising case scenario approach in order to identify what nurses/midwives need to know, be able to do, or think, in order to meet the spiritual needs of the clients. The identified competencies in spiritual care will undergo expert scrutiny through a Modified Delphi Method approach. This will be followed by a consultation process with nursing and midwifery organisations in Europe to ascertain views, agreement or non agreement on identified competency items and identify factors that facilitate or hinder the integration of the framework in nursing and midwifery education and clinical practice.

It is hoped that this study will prevent assumptions regarding spiritual care, guide the education and professional sectors and equip the nurses and midwives with the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes in spiritual care at point of registration.

NICU-to-Home transition of preterm infants: neonatal staff perspectives and parents' experiences

Author: Rita Pace Parascandalo

In recent years the survival rates of preterm infants has improved markedly (Bissell & Long, 2003). This means that more preterm infants and their families must endure long periods of hospitalisation before they can be discharged home, sometimes with unresolved medical issues and special health care needs (Holditch-Davis, 2007; Sheikh, O’Brien & McCluskeyFawcett, 1993). The importance of preparation for the transition from the NICU to home as a long-term process and not as an isolated event has long been recognised in the care of NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) infants and their families. However, literature suggests that such planning has been based primarily on health care professionals’ views of the needs of infants and their families. Little emphasis has been placed on the parents' experiences of this transition from the high-tech environment of the NICU to home (Kenner & Lott, 1990). Knowledge about the parents’ lived experiences of this process can be useful in illuminating the needs and priorities of parents and infants, which may differ from those experienced by the care team. Hence, it is important to understand the meanings of the transition from NICU to home for both health professionals and parents, and how these meanings are created and mediated in the interplay between parents and professionals.

A secondary consequence of exploring these world views could be an illumination of the potential for misunderstandings and miscommunications that might arise in gaps in the lived experiences and world views of these two groups. This could be vital in identifying potentially better practices for enabling effective NICU to home transitions for preterm infants and their parents. This study will be carried out into three phases, in phase one a mixed method systematic review will be conducted to identify and synthesis the findings available from published studies addressing the question, ‘What are the perspectives of neonatal staff and parents about the transition of preterm infants from the NICU?’

In both phase two and three a phenomenological approach will be used. Phase two seeks to explore the perspectives of neonatal staff, which include midwives, nurses and doctors, about the transition of preterm infants from the local NICU to home. One-time interviews will be done with a purposive sample of neonatal staff currently working in the local NICU. Phase three seeks to understand the meanings of the both parents', mothers and fathers, lived experiences during their baby’s hospitalisation in the NICU and throughout the first six months following the baby’s discharge home from the unit. Data in phase three will be collected from a purposive sample of parents whose preterm infants have been cared for in the local NICU. Interviews with both parents will be done at three different time frames; at one month, three months and six months after discharge home of the baby. The methodology and methods selected for this study have been purposely chosen so as to address key gaps which have been identified in the literature.