Occupational Therapy Program Student Theses, Dissertations and Capstones

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Occupational Therapy

Copyright Statement

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College of Health Care Sciences – Occupational Therapy Department

First Advisor

Kristin Winston

Second Advisor

Elise Bloch

Third Advisor

Jenene Woods Craig

Publication Date / Copyright Date



Nova Southeastern University


The purpose of this qualitative study was to gain knowledge of the lived experience of mothers of premature infants in a Level-IVneonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Additionally, the purpose of the dissertation study was to have a more in-depth understanding ofmothers’ experience of mothering in a Level-IV NICU. The eight participants were mothers of premature infants in a Level-IV NICU who had been admitted for a least one month. Data sources for the dissertation study were a demographic form, the primary investigator’s journal, two individual semi-structured interviews, and fieldnotes. The person-environment-occupation model and an occupational theory of human nature were used to frame the research design. The investigator found five themes and two subthemes, which were unanticipated journey to becoming a mother, emotional rollercoaster, mother’s lost voice, cultural influences, roadblocks to mothering, unexpected layer to mothering occupations, and support from mothering occupations. Each theme used had a description of a mother’s experience with mothering occupations and co-occupations in a Level-IV NICU. Occupational therapists can improve occupation-based practice in the NICU by incorporating mothering occupations and co-occupations between mothers and their premature infants.


Occupational Therapy


Co-occupations, Mothering occupations, Neonatal intensive care unit, Occupational therapy, Phenomenology, Premature infants