Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Tracy Vozar

Second Advisor

Michael Karson

Third Advisor

Amy Van Arsdale


Adolescent pregnancy, Teen parents, NICU, Health outcomes


Parents of infants admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) are more likely to experience posttraumatic stress, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, difficulties caring for or bonding with their infants, and financial concerns than parents who deliver full-term, healthy newborns (Ionio et al., 2016). Some NICU admissions may last several months before the premature and/or critically ill infant is stable enough for discharge, and other times the likelihood of discharge is uncertain. Arguably, teen parents with NICU infants are confronted with even more stressors throughout their newborn's hospitalization and post-discharge when they settle into their role as a new parent. Although the health and mental health outcomes of adult NICU parents are well documented in the literature, less research has investigated the unique challenges of supporting young parents and their NICU infants, as adolescent parents tend to be absent from the majority of empirical studies. Further, and perhaps more importantly, few qualitative research studies include interviews with NICU providers with insight into the treatment needs of teen parents and what may be lacking. This study conducted needs assessments with various NICU medical and mental health providers in Denver, Colorado to determine what additional resources or services may be useful for teen parents and their babies transitioning home from the hospital. A list of identified resources in Colorado for teen parents in the NICU is provided at the end of this paper (see Appendix B).

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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