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Technics of touch in the neonatal intensive care
  1. Michael van Manen
  1. Correspondence to Dr Michael van Manen, John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre, 5-16 University Terrace, 8303 - 112 Street, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2T4, Canada; michaelv{at}


Medical technologies, although often crucial for the provision of healthcare, may carry unintended significance for patients and their families. The highly technicised neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is the place where parents of hospitalised baby have their early encounters with their child. The aim of this study is to investigate phenomenologically how the contact and relation between parent and child may be affected by the mediating presence and use of the techno-medical features and equipments of the NICU. Three common technologies are examined for the ways they condition the kinds of contact afforded between parents and child: the isolette, the feeding tube and the brain imaging equipment. The concluding recommendations speak of the need for understanding the relational experiences of parents of hospitalised babies, and the tactful sensitivities required of the healthcare teams who provide care to these families.

  • Phenomenology
  • neonatology
  • paediatrics
  • ethics
  • technology
  • child health
  • critical care/intensive care
  • neonatal and paediatric intensive care

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  • Funding Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR). CGS-D. Salary Support.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by University of Alberta Health Research Ethics Board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.