Data-driven Engagement of Families to Improve the NICU Experience in Colorado



Data-driven Engagement of Families to Improve the NICU Experience in Colorado (DEFINE Colorado)

In this page you will find:

  • Project Overview
  • Hospital Participation
  • Summit Information
  • Publications
  • Resources
  • Partners

Project Overview:

Over 10% of U.S. infants are born preterm (< 37 weeks gestational age).  Preterm infants require prolonged hospitalization from weeks to months in order to achieve physiologic maturity and stability for discharge home.  During prolonged birth hospitalization, the degree of parental engagement in infant care is variable as guidelines related to parental presence, support, and integration into the medical and developmental care of these infants are lacking clinical settings.  However, recent  studies have demonstrated that optimizing family engagement in the NICU leads to several positive outcomes for both infants and their parents, including higher breastfeeding rates, shorter length of hospital stay, improved neurodevelopmental outcomes and lower stress and anxiety scores for parents.  Given the growing body of literature on the positive impact of parental engagement in the NICU on infant outcomes, the lack of implementation of policies and programs in NICUs throughout Colorado aimed at increasing parental engagement deserves a targeted approach to understanding and improving this deficit in care. 

DEFINE Colorado seeks to improve parental engagement in NICUs across Colorado by using a quality improvement framework with implementation of a bundle of care practices along with robust data collection and analysis to measure the impact of our work.

Hospital Participation:

Hospitals that join this initiative are asked to do the following: 

  • Develop a multidisciplinary team, including newborn providers 
  • Collect and submit data, complete practice and staff surveys 
  • Review existing practices and policies related to parental involvement in NICU care
  • Participate in quality improvement training webinars and summits 
  • Share their work 
  • Use structured quality improvements methods to improve care 

If you are interested in joining, email

Summit Information:

DEFINE hosts a yearly summit (virtually, in the near term) to foster the further development of an improvement community around parental engagement in the NICU. Targeted in particular to hospital-based improvement teams, these summits will also include providers, parents, community-based groups who support families of high-risk infants, and public health agencies. The summits will include didactic presentations, quality improvement education, updates on performance metrics, and perhaps most importantly, sharing of progress and ideas between hospitals and groups.

2022 DEFINE Summit – Date to Be Announced.


The Association of Social Factors and Time Spent in the NICU for Mothers of Very Preterm Infants – Bourque et al., 2021


No resources to share at this time. Check back for resources as they become available!


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Ready to Make a Difference?

A steady rise in maternal mortality rates and disparities in infant mortality have increased the spotlight on the quality of care delivered by hospitals and their staff. Together, we can address these issues, improve outcomes and reduce preventable deaths in our state.

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