Reflective functioning: parents of term and preterm infants' experiences

Kilcullen, Meegan, and Swinbourne, Anne (2016) Reflective functioning: parents of term and preterm infants' experiences. In: Presented at the International Marcé Society Conference. From: 2016 International Marcé Society Conference, 25-28 September 2016, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

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Objective/Background: Secure attachment is characterised by the ability of a sensitive caregiver to mentalise their emotional and cognitive experience and help to develop the self-organisation of their child's own experiences. Premature birth and its associated changes to early parenting practice may interrupt the social and emotional interactions that underpin attachment. It may be that experience of preterm birth changes or impacts upon the parent's capacity for reflective functioning due to associated stressors and distress of early birth. Currently, there is limited research and literature regarding attachment in the neonatal context. This study explored parent's experiences of parenting in the child’s first five years of life. Specifically, the study compared experiences of parents of term infants with parents of preterm infants.

Method: 161 parents completed a paper or online survey exploring reflective functioning. There were 122 term parents and 39 parents of preterm children under the age of 5 years who completed the survey.

Results: Overall, most term and preterm parents reported high levels of good reflective functioning. Preliminary results indicate no significant differences in reflective functioning between parents of term and preterm infants.

Conclusion/Discussion: Although this is a small study, results are encouraging for existing practices that support attachment in the neonatal context. It will be important to conduct further research in a larger sample to replicate these findings. These findings provide novel insights into our understanding of attachment in the neonatal context and will guide work practices of neonatal staff with a view to optimising outcomes for neonates and their families.

Item ID: 49390
Item Type: Conference Item (Abstract / Summary)
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Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2017 01:28
FoR Codes: 17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1701 Psychology > 170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920209 Mental Health Services @ 100%
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