Living in Hope and Desperate for A Miracle: NICU Nurses Perceptions of Parental Anguish

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Religion and Health, 2014, 54 (2), pp. 731 - 744
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© 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York. The birth of an extremely premature baby is a tragedy, and it is only natural that the parents will rely on the spiritual and religious beliefs that guide the rest of their lives. At this difficult time, parents with strong religious beliefs will hope for divine intervention and pray for a miracle. This paper outlines the difficulties experienced by neonatal nurses when caring for an extremely premature baby whose parents hold on to hope and their belief in divine intervention and a miracle. Data were collected via a questionnaire to Australian neonatal nurses and semi-structured interviews with 24 neonatal nurses in NSW, Australia. A qualitative approach was used to analyse the data. The theme of “hoping for a miracle” was captured by two sub-themes “praying for a miracle” and “oscillating between hope and despair”. For some families, the hope of divine intervention seemed all consuming, and the nurses were witness to the desperation and disappointment of families when a miracle was not forthcoming.
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