For a study, researchers sought to determine if parents of preterm children under 37 weeks of gestation who received a special smartphone software developed to help parents had higher parenting self-efficacy, a critical component of parenting confidence, compared to controls. Parents were randomly allocated to either conventional care (control) or the NICU2HOME app (intervention) groups in a quasiexperimental, time-lagged study design. The validated Parenting Sense of Competence (PSOC) measure was completed by both groups at four-time intervals (about the day of life 7, 1 day before discharge, and 14 and 30 days following discharge), reflecting the neonatal intensive care unit, discharge, and home environments. App usage was described and classified. The effect of the treatment group on PSOC score over time was examined using linear mixed-effect regression models adjusted for variables and overall family effect.
About 298 parents were enrolled (123 control, 175 intervention), with 256 completing one or more PSOC tests. From the first assessment forward, the intervention group had higher PSOC scores than the control group (estimate, 4.3; P=.0042), with no significant change in PSOC score for either group. However, in comparison to controls or below-average users, average and above-average users had substantially higher PSOC scores (estimate, 5.16; P=.0024; estimate, 5.16; P=.0014). Parents who used the NICU2HOME app reported higher parental self-efficacy in the neonatal intensive care unit, which remained until they were discharged to their homes compared to controls. In addition, new technology, such as point-of-care smartphone apps, might help parents cope with challenging and stressful situations.