Date of Paper/Work


Type of Paper/Work

Doctoral Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy


Occupational Science/Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Julie Bass, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA


Doctor of Occupational Therapy


The earliest of occupational therapy interventions often commence in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where mothers and fathers begin learning how to parent in unexpected surroundings and with unexpected complications. This project seeks to present an innovative approach to neonatal occupational therapy practice, framed using the Person-Environment- Occupation-Performance (PEOP) Model (Baum et al., 2015). A phenomenological approach was employed to build a picture of understanding by gathering and recording information about context, insights, events, and influences on parent and infant occupational performance in the NICU. Qualitative methods were used to explore the concept of occupational and co- occupational performance in the NICU and to provide rich descriptions of parent and infant occupations in the NICU setting. Five themes of active engagement emerged, serving as global descriptors of parent and infant experience and representing key aspects of the phenomena of parent and infant occupational performance in the NICU: Perceiving ―They‖ vs. ―I‖; Maintaining Proximity; Expressing Emotions, Values, and Beliefs; Addressing Health Issues; and Analyzing. With increased knowledge and awareness of NICU-based occupations, neonatal occupational therapists can utilize The Person-Environment- Occupation-Performance (PEOP) Occupational Therapy Process (Bass et al., 2015) to guide occupation-based practice in the NICU setting. Thus, the purpose of this project was twofold: (a) to explore occupation and co-occupation as described by parents, and (b) to explicate the PEOP Occupational Therapy Process for use in the NICU.