at Fresno, California and other locations
study started
estimated completion
Principal Investigator
by Linda Franck, RN, PhD
Photo of Linda Franck
Linda Franck



The purpose of this study is to compare the standard of care in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), known as Family Centered Care, to a new model of care, called mobile enhanced Family Integrated Care. This exploratory two-group comparison study will examine the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness, providing the first United States (US) information about outcomes of a new NICU care model that better integrates parents into all aspects of their baby's care. The use of mobile technology as part of this new model of care could improve access and equity in family integration for the many US families who face barriers to NICU involvement.


Poor growth during neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) hospitalization is a modifiable risk factor contributing to mortality and serious long-term morbidity for many of the nearly 400,000 preterm infants born each year in the United States (US). Active parent involvement in preterm infant caregiving promotes parent-infant attachment and leads to higher breastfeeding rates, earlier discharge, and improved long-term neurodevelopment. Despite decades of evidence of the positive effects of parental involvement, parents remain for the most part passive bystanders in the NICU setting. Even with many NICUs adopting a Family-Centered Care (FCC) approach, parent-infant contact and parenting skills remain well below desired levels. Family Integrated Care (FI-Care) is a novel intervention that differs from FCC because it formally teaches and supports parents to be primary caregivers for their infants and restructures the relationship between parents and clinicians so that parents are fully integrated into the care team. There is strong evidence from a large, well-designed cluster randomized trial conducted in Canada and Australia that FI-Care improves infant growth and breastfeeding rates and reduces maternal stress. However, these findings cannot be generalized to US NICUs where parents face many barriers to involvement in their infant's NICU care. The research team has developed a secure, HIPAA-compliant, mobile application to capture high quality data about parent involvement in NICU caregiving and to deliver essential elements of the FI-Care program remotely. This mobile-enhanced FI-Care (mFI-Care) may improve involvement of parents who cannot be present in the NICU during daytime hours due to distance, employment or other responsibilities and family commitments. Increasing access and equity in family-integrated care may improve outcomes for US preterm infants. This exploratory two-group, multi-site comparison study will compare usual FCC with mFI-Care on growth and clinical outcomes of preterm infants < 33 weeks gestational age, as well as the stress, competence and self-efficacy of their parents. The feasibility and acceptability of using mobile technology to gather data about parent involvement in the care of preterm infants receiving FCC or mFICare as well as of the mFI-Care intervention will be evaluated (Aim 1). The effect sizes for infant growth (primary outcome) and for secondary infant and parent outcomes at NICU discharge and three months after discharge will be estimated (Aim 2). This study will provide important new information on innovative approaches to increasing parent involvement in NICU infant caregiving, including the use of a novel mobile application. The findings will be used to develop a future US cluster-randomized trial of mFI-Care with the aim of improving outcomes for preterm infants and their parents.


Premature Birth of Newborn Intensive Care Units, Neonatal Parents Mobile application Premature Birth Family Integrated Care


You can join if…

  • Infant ≤ 33 weeks and their parent or guardian

You CAN'T join if...

  • Infant has a life-threatening congenital anomaly, is unlikely to survive or is receiving palliative care
  • Parent is not English literate
  • Parent < 18 years of age
  • Parent does not have access to hand-held computer (smartphone or tablet)


  • Community Regional Medical Center
    Fresno California 93721 United States
  • UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland
    Oakland California 94609 United States
  • UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco
    San Francisco California 94158 United States

Lead Scientist at UCSF

  • Linda Franck, RN, PhD
    My program of research focuses on health care for acutely and chronically ill infants and children, in primary, secondary and tertiary care settings, with a particular emphasis on pain assessment and management.


in progress, not accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, San Francisco
Study Type
Last Updated