Shaken baby syndrome: The implementation and evaluation of an education program for parents

Maureen S. Bravo


Nurses and health care professionals caring for infants in the hospital setting are responsible for educating parents regarding the care of their newborn. In addition to routine care, education about potential risks must also be addressed. One of the most devastating injuries that can occur during the first one to two years of life is Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), a form of abusive head trauma. A study was undertaken to assess parental knowledge about SBS, precipitating factors and prevention. Development of a formal education program about SBS was initiated on the Mother Baby unit at the Medical College of Georgia Hospital (now Georgia Regents Medical Center), and was presented to all mothers with healthy full term infants, prior to their newborn’s discharge from the hospital. Mothers were given a pretest to assess knowledge of SBS followed by one-to-one teaching within 24-48 hours post-delivery. Fathers were included if present, but mothers were the target audience. Two teaching methods were utilized. Mothers were assigned on an alternating basis to either an oral presentation group, or a group that also received a video presentation. The video is produced by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome and is specifically targeted for the post-partum population. Although 100% of the mothers had previous knowledge of SBS, only 37% were knowledgeable about prevention measures. Follow up data was gathered through a posttest via telephone contact. Mothers were asked identical questions as on the pretest. Knowledge of behaviors to prevent SBS had increased significantly. Although data analysis did not determine if one presentation method was more effective for information recall, all mothers contacted could correctly identify prevention behaviors. Education about SBS should begin during the post-partum period, but the information should be reinforced at each well baby visit to enhance retention, and discuss infant behaviors that can precipitate abuse by any and all caregivers.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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