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BACKGROUND: Parents of babies admitted to neonatal units experience an arduous emotional journey. Feelings of helplessness, fear, sadness, guilt, grief and anger are common. These feelings can lead to anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress which may persist long after discharge from the unit. Support from a parent with first-hand experience able to empathise with problems and challenges may help. This systematic review will identify quantitative and qualitative evidence to address the role of parent-to-parent support interventions for families of babies cared for in neonatal units, and combine the findings in an integrated synthesis. METHODS: We are working in collaboration with a study-specific Parent Advisory Group (PAG) of parents who have relevant and varied lived experience of having a baby in neonatal care and those who have been involved in providing peer support. With the PAG, we will carry out a systematic review bringing together all existing research on parent-to-parent support for parents of babies cared for in neonatal units. This will be reported in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement. The protocol has been produced in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Protocol extension (PRISMA-P). We have co-produced a plain language protocol summary with the PAG which details the different stages of the project, and this is available via our website ( ) for anyone interested in learning more about the detail of the project. DISCUSSION: All outputs will be available on the NIHR CLAHRC South West Peninsula (PenCLAHRC) website and promoted via PenCLAHRC networks as well as organisations that have been contacted throughout the project. PAG members will be involved in writing and reviewing the academic paper and final report and in co-producing dissemination products such as plain language summaries. The PAG will influence the main conclusions of the systematic review, aid interpretation and help to communicate results in the most appropriate ways. We will hold an impact conference with representatives from neonatal units, national neonatal networks, commissioners of services and parents to discuss what the findings mean for clinical practice and service provision. SYSTEMATIC REVIEW REGISTRATION: PROSPERO CRD42018090569.

Original publication




Journal article


Syst Rev

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NICU, NNU, Neonatal, Parent peer, Parent support, Parent-to-parent, Premature, Preterm