Creating Opportunities for Parent Empowerment

Creating Opportunities for Parent Empowerment

Reducing Parent Stress and Hospital Costs for Preterm Infants Through Parent Education and Skills Building

Background & Goal

Each year, more than a half million infants (i.e., one out of every eight) are born prematurely in the United States. Preterm birth results in extended stays in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), developmental delays, physical and mental health/behavioral problems, increased medical utilization and poor academic performance. Preterm births cost the United States $26.2 billion annually. Parents of preterm infants experience a higher incidence of depression and anxiety disorders along with altered parent-infant interactions and overprotective parenting, which negatively impacts their children.

The Creating Opportunities for Parent Empowerment (COPE) program provides education and skills building activities to parents of preterm infants, in an effort to reduce hospital stays, enhance parent-infant interaction, and reduce parental depression and anxiety.

Center Description

COPE is an educational-behavioral skills-building intervention with informational CDs and a workbook that teaches parents about the appearance and behavioral characteristics of premature infants. The activities show the parents how to help meet their child’s needs, enhance the quality of parent-child interaction and facilitate their infant’s development, as well as help the parents implement the educational information.

For More Information Contact:

Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk, PhD, RN, APRN-CNP, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN

Parents listen to educational information on 10-20 minute CDs as they read it in their workbook, providing corresponding skill-building activities that parents complete after listening. Successive interventions are delivered to parents 2-4 days after the infant is admitted to the NICU, 2-4 days after the first intervention, 1-4 days prior to the infant’s discharge from the NICU and, finally, about one week after discharge.

Evidence of Success

  • Infants in the COPE program had a 3.8-day shorter hospital length of stay (mean of 35.2 days) than infants in the attention control group (mean of 39.2 days); an 8 day shorter length of stay for infants less than 32 weeks gestation.
  • Overall, the program achieved cost savings of at least $4,864 per infant. For infants weighing less than 1,500 grams, net cost savings were $9,864 per infant. Translated to a national level, this means that delivering the COPE program in NICUs across the United States could save the health care system a minimum of more than $2 billion per year in addition to improving parent and child outcomes.
  • Insurers and neonatal intensive care units across the U.S. and globe are adopting and implementing COPE and achieving even shorter hospital stays for their premature infants than was demonstrated in the original full-scale clinical trial.