Date of Award

Fall 12-13-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Dr. Becki Cohill, OTD, OTR/L

Second Advisor

Dr. Susan MacDermott, OTD, OTR/L

Third Advisor

Dr. Erin Schwier, EdD, OTD, OTR/L

Medical Subject Headings

Occupational Therapy, Mothers, Patient Discharge, Intensive Care Units, Neonatal, Mental Health, Health Resources


The purpose of this capstone project is to identify OT’s role in maternal mental health following the transition home from a NICU setting. This capstone project focused on mothers’ roles, routines, and environment during the transition from the NICU to home. Mothers may feel unprepared for the discharge home when their babies are ready to leave the NICU (Boykova, 2016). Occupational therapists address occupational performance through skilled interventions for women during the perinatal period; however, there is a lack of evidence guiding occupational therapy for providing services for maternal wellness (Slootjes, 2016).

Data analysis for this capstone project consisted of a thematic analysis through a needs assessment by identifying common themes and concepts derived from mothers’ lived responses using the Model of Human Occupation Framework. A four week observational period was used to develop familiarity with families using an observational chart. Twelve families (11 mothers and 1 father) volunteered to participate. Ten mothers completed the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale and 11 mothers and 1 father completed the semi structured interview.

This paper further refines the definition of how OT can support mothers throughout the transition process by representing the mother’s perspective on transitions home from the NICU and demonstrating how their role, routine and environment evolve from the point of discharge. This finding has important implications for occupational therapy practice regarding interventions that are intended to promote positive maternal mental health. As such, hoping to validate mothers’ perceptions that will empower professionals and other mothers to feel confident and prepared for their new baby after discharge home from the NICU.


Capstone project submitted to the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Occupational Therapy.