Original Research

Perceptions of mothers with preterm infants about early communication development: A scoping review

Elanie van Schalkwyk, Samantha Gay, Julia Miller, Elani Matthee, Berna Gerber
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 67, No 1 | a640 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v67i1.640 | © 2020 Elanie van Schalkwyk, Samantha Gay, Julia Miller, Elani Matthee, Berna Gerber | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 May 2019 | Published: 29 January 2020

About the author(s)

Elanie van Schalkwyk, Division of Speech-Language and Hearing Therapy, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Samantha Gay, Division of Speech-Language and Hearing Therapy, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Julia Miller, Division of Speech-Language and Hearing Therapy, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Elani Matthee, Division of Speech-Language and Hearing Therapy, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Berna Gerber, Division of Speech-Language and Hearing Therapy, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Preterm infants are at risk of communication disorders or delays, and their mothers experience various difficult emotions and realities. These communication difficulties could be effectively prevented or addressed through the provision of appropriate maternal support. Maternal perceptions regarding early communication–interaction and development in preterm population should thus be well understood by health professionals. Previous studies have focussed on parents’ and patients’ perceptions of medical information received from health professionals. Limited research, however, has been undertaken on maternal perceptions of early communication development in preterm infants, specifically in the South African context.

Objectives: The study aims to summarise the range and the nature of available research in the fields of early communication development and intervention in preterm infants, specifically maternal perceptions thereof.

Method: A scoping review methodology comprising five phases was used. Data were extracted from the final selection of 12 articles and analysed through quantitative and thematic techniques.

Results: The results of the scoping review indicate that the defined research field is in a developing phase. Mothers mainly experience negative emotions and have limited knowledge regarding communication interaction with preterm infants. Furthermore, hospitalisation has been experienced as a barrier to natural communication–interaction between mother and infant.

Conclusion: Based on these results, it is recommended that primary research be conducted with the mothers of preterm infants to establish the most effective strategies for communication–interaction training with this vulnerable population. A further recommendation would be to increase awareness of early communication development and intervention in the preterm population amongst both parents and health professionals.


Keywords

mother; perception; preterm infant; early communication development; communication; interaction.

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