Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Pediatric Nursing





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School of Arts and Humanities


© 2020. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license

Simkin-Tran, K., Harman, B., & Nicolson, S. (2020). Mentalisation amongst maternal and child health nurses using the newborn behavioural observations with infant-mother dyads: A qualitative study. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 53, 21-27.


© 2020 Elsevier Inc. Purpose: This study explored Maternal and Child Health Nurses' (MCHN) mentalisation processes towards infant-mother dyads when using the Newborn Behavioural Observations (NBO) system in practice. Design and methods: Ten Australian MCHNs (female; aged 31–66 years), who had used the NBO clinically within the last 12 months, were recruited from a database of NBO-trained practitioners. Interpretative phenomenological analysis of one-on-one semi-structured interviews explored MCHNs experiential meaning-making. Results: Analysis of the data produced four main themes: reflections regarding the dyad, personal reflections, reflection into action, and professional identity and future practice. MCHNs reported that the NBO's focus on the pre-verbal infant provided them with an added dynamic to consultations outside of the practitioner-caregiver relationship. Thus, they were able to provide holistic and collaborative relationship support to infant-mother dyads. Emotional satisfaction and pride in profession were also reported; in current literature, these factors have been found to reduce burnout in primary care providers. Conclusions: The NBO appears to promote practitioner mentalisation, offering MCHNs a framework and confidence to apply infant mental health theory practically. Practice implications: The NBO offers potential benefits to child and family health nursing practice, and other primary care providers, who offer infant mental health and relationship support as part of their work with families in the first three months. The NBO also provides a means to shift from prescriptive to mentalisation-based, infant-inclusive, and individualised practice.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Tuesday, August 31, 2021