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Objective: The purpose of this study is to identify occupational therapy’s role in supporting paternal wellness and mental health through routines and occupations, following the transition from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) back home.

Study Design: Online surveys (n=32) and virtual interviews (n=11) were collected in order to complete a mixed-method design study. Interviews were manually transcribed and coded onto Dedoose. Thematic analysis was conducted in order to derive overall themes.

Results: This study delved into the experience of fathers’ post NICU discharge. Five overall themes were identified in this study Adjusting Expectations of the initial transition, Changes in Priorities, The Unexpected Toll of the NICU, Coping and Healing and Fathers and Healthcare Providers. This study emphasized how the continued difficulties and emotional toll following a NICU stay affects fathers’ engagement in self-care due to feelings of guilt. Narrative writing became an important occupation for fathers creating a therapeutic and community space for them to cope. Furthermore, this study indicates areas in which to improve communication between fathers and healthcare providers.

Conclusions: Findings from this study indicate that fathers would benefit from continued support post NICU discharge due to the continued challenges following a NICU stay. Occupational therapists can help support father’s occupational balance in order to promote positive engagement in self-care activities. Furthermore, occupational therapists are in the perfect role to create future programming addressing the needs of fathers in order to promote a smooth transition home.

Publication Date



University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences

Medical Subject Headings

Fathers, Mental Health, Self Care, Intensive Care Units, Neonatal, Occupational Therapy, Surveys and Questionnaires, Interviews


Clinical Psychology | Obstetrics and Gynecology | Occupational Therapy


Poster presented at the Fall 2020 Virtual OTD Capstone Symposium, held online at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences on December 11, 2020.

An Occupational Perspective: Supporting the Paternal Role and Transition Home From the NICU