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van Veenendaal NR, Deierl A, Bacchini F, O'Brien K, Franck LS; International Steering Committee for Family Integrated Care. Supporting parents as essential care partners in neonatal units during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Acta Paediatr. 2021 Mar 26. doi: 10.1111/apa.15857. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33772861.

Aim: To review the evidence on safety of maintaining family integrated care practices and the effects of restricting parental participation in neonatal care during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

Methods: MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO and CINAHL databases were searched from inception to the 14th of October 2020. Records were included if they reported scientific, empirical research (qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods) on the effects of restricting or promoting family integrated care practices for parents of hospitalized neonates during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Two authors independently screened abstracts, appraised study quality and extracted study and outcome data.

Results: We retrieved 803 publications and assessed 75 full-text articles. Seven studies were included, reporting data on 854 healthcare professionals, 442 parents, 364 neonates and 26 other family members, within 286 neonatal units globally. The pandemic response resulted in significant changes in neonatal unit policies and restricting parents’ access and participation in neonatal care. Breastfeeding, parental bonding, participation in caregiving, parental mental health and staff stress were negatively impacted.

Conclusion: This review highlights that SARS-CoV-2 pandemic-related hospital restrictions had adverse effects on care delivery and outcomes for neonates, families and staff. Recommendations for restoring essential family integrated care practices are discussed.

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