Methodology of Examining Unintended Consequences of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Redesign

Student Classification


Faculty Mentor

Stephanie Teixeira-Poit, PhD, Assistant Professor of Sociology, College of Health and Human Sciences, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University



Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 4-2021


Our community needs assessment identified priority areas including eliminating bias and discrimination in health care and access to high quality, affordable health care. The needs assessment demonstrates that our community’s rates of infant mortality reflect racial and ethnic disparities. Infant mortality is a key metric of the wellbeing of the community and the communities’ ability to provide optimal health care for infants to thrive. This finding leads us to explore whether patient sub-populations equally benefited from a recent redesign of our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) from open-bay to single family rooms. A theoretical benefit of single family room designs is increased parent-neonate bonding time, yet this assumes parents are able to routinely room-in with neonates. Black and low income parents may experience economic and transportation hardships that constrain their opportunity to room-in at the frequency of white and economically privileged parents. We hypothesize that not all neonates benefit equally from NICU design transitions to single family rooms; transitioning to single family rooms may disproportionately benefit neonates who are white and from economically privileged families compared to neonates who are Black or from families with low incomes. We will conduct a mixed-methods study that triangulates patient health outcome data, patient experience surveys, and in-depth interviews with NICU staff to explore whether different patient sub-populations unequally benefited from or were unintentionally harmed by the NICU design transition. We will unearth whether the NICU design transition may have had the unintentional consequence of exacerbating inequalities created by social determinants of health.

This document is currently not available here.