Chatting: An Important Clinical Tool In Facilitating Mothering In Neonatal Nurseries

Document Type

Journal Article


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Nursing and Public Health




Fenwick, J., Barclay, L., & Schmied, V. (2001). ‘Chatting’: an important clinical tool in facilitating mothering in neonatal nurseries. Journal of advanced nursing, 33(5), 583-593. Available here



Aim. This paper explores the use of ‘chat’ or ‘social talk’ as an important clinical tool that can assist nurses achieve family-centred care in neonatal nurseries. Background. The study was undertaken to increase knowledge of women’s experiences of mothering in the neonatal nursery and the relationship they share with nurses. Method. The discussion presented is elicited from a grounded theory analysis of over 60 hours of interview data with 28 women, a thematic analysis of 50 hours of interviews with 20 nurses and a content analysis of 398 tape-recorded interactions between nurses and parents. Findings. The analysis identifies the importance of the nurse–mother relationship and demonstrates that it is both the context and method by which nursing care is delivered. We found the verbal exchanges that take place between nurse and mother influence a woman’s confidence, her sense of control and her feelings of connection to her infant. It appears from the data that the nurse’s ability to effectively ‘engage’ the mother is dependent on the use of language that expresses care, support and interest in parents. Conclusions. The data suggests that ‘chatting’ is the strategy and the process through which positive interactions are initiated, maintained and enhanced. This study confirms that nurses’ language acts as a powerful clinical tool that can be used to assist parents in gaining confidence in caring for their infants and in becoming ‘connected’ to infants resident in nurseries.




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