Constructing a grounded theory of parents’ musical engagement with their premature baby and emerging parental identity in a neonatal unit (NU)

Dr Elizabeth Mclean1

1The University Of Melbourne/ The Royal Children’s Hospital , BELMONT, Australia

Abstract:

Title:
Constructing a grounded theory of parents’ musical engagement with their premature baby and emerging parental identity in a neonatal unit (NU)

Background:
Scholarship highlights the need to further examine and better understand and foster the process of becoming a parent to a premature baby in the neonatal context to support the critical development of the parent- infant relationship. Music therapy research documents significant benefits of music therapy on neonatal physiological and neurodevelopmental function, maternal anxiety and the parent- infant relationship.

Aim:
To explore how parents’ musical engagement with their baby contributed to their parental  identity across the NU journey.

Method:
This multi-site study utilised in-depth interviews with nine parents of a premature baby across varying time points in their NU journey. Data collection and analysis was influenced by Constructivist Grounded Theory methodology.

Results:
A substantive grounded theory illuminated the contribution of these parents’ musical engagement on their sense of parental identity in the NU. The significance of their baby’s level and type of response during musical interactions in influencing parents’ capacity to engage in musical dialogue with their baby emerged. Specific conditions that acted as both barriers and fosters in parents’ musical engagement across a high- risk pregnancy and NU admission also emerged.

Significance of the findings to allied health:
These findings highlight the powerful role of exploring parents’ perspectives of clinical care in the NU as a way of health professionals delivering more family- inclusive models of practice to support the early parenting role in the NU.

Biography:

Elizabeth is a Registered Music Therapist who specialises in music therapy practice and research within Paediatrics and Neonatology, currently working as a music therapist in the NICU at The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne Australia. Elizabeth has also completed a PhD degree through The University of Melbourne, exploring music therapy’s role for supporting hospitalised infants and their families in the NICU and SCN setting, with a particular interest in the role of parental singing and voice to support the parent- infant relationship in the hospital setting. She has been employed as an Academic Assistant in the Department of Music Therapy at The University of Melbourne and is currently a casual tutor and guest lecturer.