Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Dr. Masoud Ghaffari

Committee Members

Dr. Sally Blowers, Dr. Sharon Loury, Dr. Jodie Murphy-Oikonen


Purpose: The purpose of this ethnographic study was to describe the culture of care and nonpharmacological nursing interventions performed by NICU nurses for infants with NAS. Background: Infants with NAS are increasingly being cared for in the inpatient hospital setting by NICU nurses. Interventions used for the care of premature and sick infants in the NICU may or may not be the exact interventions that should be used for the care of the fragile infant with NAS. Research studies on the nonpharmacological nursing care of infants with NAS encompass 5 main areas of practice: environment, adequate rest and sleep, feeding, assessment and evaluation using Finnegan scoring by nurses, and nurses as caregivers. Method: Roper and Shapira’s (2000) framework for the analysis of ethnographic data was used for this research and included participant observation, individual interviews, and the examination to existing documents. Data analysis included: (a) coding for descriptive labels, (b) sorting to identify patterns, (c) identification of outliers or negative cases, (d) generalizing constructs and theories, and (e) memoing to note personal reflection and insights. Focused ethnography allows for the articulation of research questions before fieldwork while observing and describing a culture. Results: Five themes emerged from the data: learn the baby (routine care, comfort care, environment, adequate rest and sleep, feeding), core team relationships (support, interpersonal relationships), role satisfaction (nurturer or comforter, becoming an expert), grief, and making a difference (wonderful insanity, critical to them). Implications: The results of this were a description of the culture of care provided to infants with NAS by NICU nurses and provide general recommendations to the nurse caring for an infant with NAS in the areas of environment, adequate sleep and rest, feeding, and the role of the nurse. This study also has implications for future study of evidence-based research strategies to decrease withdrawal symptoms in infants with NAS. Research is needed in the areas of clinical practice guidelines to help the bedside nurse care for these infants using current research and evidence for practice. Nursing theory and nursing education both contribute to nursing research in how to better understand the culture of care provided by nurses.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.