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Learning suitable for hospital and learning suitable for home: differences in perception between postpartum mothers and maternal/newborn nurses Dean, Susan K.

Abstract

The trend toward early postpartum discharge programs means that much more of the postpartum teaching traditionally carried out in hospital will need to be conducted at home with visiting nurses. However, before any postpartum education changes could be recommended, it was necessary to investigate the perceptions of the two groups of people involved in early postpartum education; postpartum mothers and maternal/newborn nurses. The purpose of this study was to identify the postpartum learning needs that early discharge mothers and hospital based maternal/newborn nurses regarded as either more suitably addressed in hospital or more suitably addressed at home and to compare the perceptions of both groups. Therefore, a factor-searching and relation-searching approach was used to study convenience samples of 89 low risk, primiparous mothers eligible for early discharge and 50 nurses. Each participant completed a questionnaire which was developed for the study. Concerns and interests identified in the literature as important to mothers during the postpartum period were included. Topics were assigned to three categories; self, infant, and family. Each category contained an "other" option so that both groups would feel free to identify topics that were not present in the questionnaire. Results of the study suggested that postpartum mothers want learning needs related to their infants addressed first, followed by those related to self, and those related to family last. While mothers' and nurses' perceptions of topics suitable for hospital were similar, their perceptions of topics suitable for home differed. Mothers perceived most of the infant topics as more appropriate to discussion in hospital and most of the family topics as more appropriate to discussion in the home. Most of the nurses perceived only physical care/skill kinds of infant topics as appropriate to hospital and informational topics related to the infant as more appropriate to home. The study also indicated that both groups expected a large portion of postpartum learning to occur within a 48 hour hospital stay postpartum. The results have implications for nursing practice, education, administration, and research. Strategies aimed at meeting the learning needs of early discharge postpartum mothers more effectively are identified and described.

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