Normative Cultural Values and the Experiences of Mexican-American Mothers in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

Friday, 3 August 2012: 10:35 AM

Lisa M. Cleveland, PhD, RN, IBCLC
Department of Family & Community Nursing, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
Sharon Horner, PhD, RN, FAAN
School of Nursing, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

Learning Objective 1: Explain the importance of the 5 normative cultural values for Latino families in the NICU: 1) simpatia, 2) personalismo, 3) respeto, 4) familismo, 5) fatalismo.

Learning Objective 2: Describe nursing care that supports these cultural values within the NICU.

Purpose: Little is known about the experiences of Mexican-American mothers who have had an infant in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Therefore the purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding to guide nursing practice.

Methods: An exploratory qualitative approach was used. Data collection was conducted through audio-taped, transcribed, semi-structured, individual interviews and field notes. The 5 normative cultural values for Latino families; 1) simpatia, 2) personalismo, 3) respeto, 4) familismo, and 5) fatalismo were used as a sensitizing framework to guide data interpretation.

Results: A convenience sample of fifteen English-speaking, Mexican-American women was interviewed. The women's discussions of their NICU experiences clearly reflect the 5 normative Latino cultural values. Simpatia was observed when the mothers expressed how important it was to feel welcomed in the nursery. Personalismo was demonstrated by the mothers’ desire to develop a personal relationship with the nurses. Some mothers conveyed exemplars where they felt respeto was lacking and they felt judged by the nursing staff. Familismo influenced every aspect of the NICU experience from the items the mothers brought for their infants to the mothers’ feelings about the discharge of their infant from the hospital. While fatalismo was not threaded as consistently through the data as the other values, for several of the mothers there was an underlying fear that their infant’s condition was fated and that little could be done to alter the course of events.

 Conclusion: These findings can be used to inform nursing care provided for Mexican-American mothers and their infants by assisting nurses to customize care to meet the cultural needs of this population.