Research

Provision of taped conversations with neonatologists to mothers of babies in intensive care: randomised controlled trial

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39017.675648.BE (Published 04 January 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:28
  1. Tieh Hee Hai Guan Koh, clinical director and associate professor1,
  2. Phyllis N Butow, professor4,
  3. Michael Coory, associate professor3,
  4. Donna Budge, research nurse2,
  5. Li-An Collie, research nurse2,
  6. John Whitehall, director of neonatology and adjunct associate professor1,
  7. Martin H Tattersall, professor5
  1. 1Institute of Women's and Children's Health, Townsville Hospital, Douglas, QLD 4814, Australia and Medical School of James Cook University, Douglas, QLD
  2. 2Institute of Women's and Children's Health, Townsville Hospital, Douglas, QLD 4814, Australia
  3. 3School of Population Health, Queensland Health, Brisbane, Australia
  4. 4Medical Psychology Research Unit, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia
  5. 5Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney
  1. Correspondence to: T H H G Koh guan_koh{at}health.qld.gov.au
  • Accepted 13 October 2006

Abstract

Objective To determine whether providing mothers of babies in neonatal intensive care units with audiotapes of their conversations with a neonatologist improves recall of information and psychological wellbeing.

Design Randomised, single blinded trial.

Setting Neonatal intensive care unit, North Queensland, Australia.

Participants 200 mothers of babies in a neonatal intensive care unit.

Interventions Mothers given (n=102) or not given (n=98) audiotapes of their conversations with a neonatologist.

Main outcome measures Recall of information, attitudes to and use of the tape, satisfaction with conversations, postnatal depression, anxiety, general health, and stress about parenting, at 10 days and four and 12 months.

Results 91% (n=93) of mothers in the tape group listened to the tape (once by day 10, twice by four months, and three times by 12 months; range 1-10). At 10 days and four months, mothers in the tape group recalled significantly more information about diagnosis, treatment, and outcome than mothers in the control group. At four months mothers in the tape group were 75% more likely to recall all of the information about treatment than mothers in the control group (59% v 34%; risk ratio 1.75, 95% confidence interval 1.27 to 2.4). Six mothers, all in the control group, could not recall their conversations. No statistically significant differences were found between the groups in satisfaction with conversations (10 days), postnatal depression and anxiety scores (10 days, four and 12 months), and stress about parenting (12 months).

Conclusion Providing the mothers of babies in neonatal intensive care units with audiotapes of conversations with a neonatologist enhanced their recall of information (up to four months). The taped conversations did not affect the mothers' wellbeing or satisfaction with the neonatologist.

Trial registration Australian Clinical Trials Registry 12606000478516.

Footnotes

  • We thank the mothers and health professionals at the Institute of Women's and Children's Health, Townsville Hospital, for their support.

  • Contributors: THHGK initiated, organised, and supervised the study and cross checked the data; he is the guarantor. THHGK, MC, and PNB analysed the data. THHGK, PNB, and MHT contributed to the study design. THHGK, PB, DB, LC, and JW helped carry out the trial. THHGK, PNB, MC, and MHT contributed to the paper, interpretation of data, and subsequent revisions of the manuscript.

  • Funding: THHGK, PNB, DB, LC, JW, and MHT were supported by grants from the Royal Children's Hospital Foundation/Golden Casket, Brisbane and the Townsville health district.

  • Competing interests: None declared.

  • Ethical approval: This study was approved by Townsville health district ethics committee.

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