Study after study finds that the role of families is key to the growth and development of very low birth weight (VLBW) infants after hospital discharge. The clinical knowledge and skills of health professionals are only of benefit to infants if health professionals work as a team with families and caregivers.
As part of the Gaining and Growing project we completed six focus groups with parents of VLBW infants. These groups were held in 1997 in Anchorage, Boise, Seattle (2), and Portland (2). We recruited families who had infants with birth weights less than 1500 grams. Infants were all less than 2 years post-discharge at the time of the focus group meeting, and all were living at home with their biological parents. At these meetings we heard from a total of 29 caregivers, including 26 mothers, 2 fathers, and 1 grandmother.
To organize and conduct the groups we followed protocols suggested by Richard Krueger in Focus Groups: A Practical Guide to Applied Research (1994). We used concepts from Krueger's Analyzing and Reporting Focus Group Results (1998) to analyze our data and identify the common themes presented on the linked pages.
We are very grateful to the families who shared their experiences with us. It is our hope that this presentation of our findings will be useful to the readers of these pages as they work with families of VLBW infants.