In-hospital education of parents of newborns may benefit from competency-based education: A qualitative focus group and interview study among health professionals

M. Stelwagen*, A. Westmaas, A. Van Kempen, F. Scheele

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aims/Objectives The aim of this study was to appraise health professionals' self-reported practices in educating parents of hospitalised newborns from the perspective of competency-based education and to identify areas for improvement of parental learning. Background Patient education is essential to achieve autonomy in parents of hospitalised newborns. The literature provides descriptions of the use of various components of competency-based education in patient education. This suggests that competency-based education is a valuable concept for patient education. Design A case-based qualitative study. Methods Three focus group discussions were conducted and 28 semi-structured interviews with 45 health professionals who practice in a hospital setting that is designed to empower parents. The data were analysed with a framework analysis approach, using a framework of competency-based education themes for a combined inductive and deductive content data analysis. The recommendations of the Standards for Reporting Qualitative Research checklist were followed. Findings Two themes of competency-based education emerged as evidently operationalised: (1) 'Learning climate' and (2) 'Role modeling'. Five themes emerged as incompletely operationalised: (1) 'Parent curriculum based on inter-professional consensus'; (2) 'Transparency about the competencies needed'; (3) 'Access to teaching'; (4) 'Assessing and reporting results'; and (5) 'Proficiency statements based on autonomy expectations'. Two themes did not emerge: (1) 'Empowering parents to be active learners' and (2) 'Evaluation and improvement of the education program'. Conclusions Parent education is at risk of being merely on a master-apprentice model and may be more effective if it is designed on competency-based education principles. Identified areas for improvement are empowering parents to be 'active learners' and by involving them in the evaluation and improvement of the educational program. Parent education in neonatal health care may benefit from an appraisal based on competency-based education themes. Relevance to clinical practice Appraising parent education based on competency-based education principles is feasible for improving the learning process towards parent autonomy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1076-1088
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number7-8
Early online date22 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • competency-based education
  • hospitals
  • parental learning
  • parenting
  • patient autonomy
  • patient education
  • patient participation
  • patient-centred care
  • power
  • preterm infants


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