Viewpoints of parents and nurses on how to design products to enhance parent–infant bonding at neonatal intensive care units: a qualitative study based on existing designs

L. Schrauwen, D.R. Kommers, S. Bambang Oetomo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Aim: To investigate how product design can be used to improve parent–infant bonding in a neonatal intensive care unit. Background: Impaired parent–infant bonding is an inevitable consequence of premature birth, which negatively influences development. Products, systems, or services that support the bonding process might counter these negative influences. Method: The first step was to trace existing products by performing a literature search in PubMed, the university library, and Google. The identified existing designs were then used in semistructured interviews with nurses and parents to get insights into their desires and recommendations for product design to enhance bonding. Interviews contained open questions and a multiple-choice questionnaire based on the literature search. Results: In total, 17 existing design types were used in interviews with 11 parents and 23 nurses. All nurses explicitly stated that practicality was the first criterion designs aimed at enhancing bonding definitely had to meet. All parents indicated that they would like to use a design to enhance bonding if that would contribute to their child’s health and development. For both parents and nurses, the most valuable way to enhance bonding seemed to be products to improve Kangaroo care; however, their specific desires varied substantially. Therefore, seven recurring themes were defined, resulting in nine general recommendations and six opportunities intended to enhance parent–infant bonding. Conclusion: This study provides design recommendations and opportunities based on parents’ and nurses’ expert opinions. Designing to enhance bonding is considered valuable; however, designs should match the stakeholders’ desires and conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-31
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Environments Research & Design Journal
Issue number2
Early online date10 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018



  • design
  • NICU
  • parent–infant bonding
  • preterm infant
  • technology

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