Lauren Dobson

Supervisor: Shannon Scott

Project: An evaluation of how researchers partner with parents to conduct research in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)


Edmonton, AB

Degree program:

Bachelor of Science in Nursing Honours

Why did you choose the degree program you are in?

In high school, I became fascinated with anatomy and the incredible capabilities of the human body. I knew I was interested in pursuing a career in healthcare, and the relational aspect of nursing is what really drew me in. Everyone has a unique story, and as a nurse, I have a chance to get to know people, while making a difference in their lives. I am also passionate about travelling, and the nursing profession opens up endless possibilities.

What do you get to work on throughout your studentship? 

Throughout my studentship, my main focus has been collecting data. Initially, I worked with Alberta Health Services and the Maternal Newborn Child & Youth Strategic Clinical Network to recruit participants. Throughout the summer I have been interviewing parents and family members about their experiences and involvement in child health research, and later I will analyze the interviews for relevant themes.

What's been the best part of your experience so far?

The best part of my experience has been hearing about the various projects undertaken by other young recipients of a WCHRI summer studentship. It is exciting to hear about work going on in other disciplines, and encouraging to work through research problems alongside other novice researchers. Another unique and valuable part of this experience has been the chance to directly develop my research skills as I conduct my own study under excellent guidance.

What impact do you hope this project makes once completed? How will this contribute to improving the health of children?

Past research has shown us that when parents and family members are involved in research, it leads to better health outcomes for their children. I hope that my research will inform future researchers about effective ways to engage parents, so that child health outcomes can continue to improve.

What's one piece of advice you received from your supervisor/mentor that resonated with you?

In a recent conversation, my supervisor reminded me that being successful means trusting my abilities.  As an undergraduate student, working with such accomplished and experienced academics can be intimidating at times, but Dr. Scott always reminds us that we are here because we are capable, even if it doesn't always feel like it.

Lay abstract:

Parents and families can be included in research by helping to create questions, choose methods, collect data and interpret results. Studies have shown us that when parents and family members are involved in research, it leads to better health outcomes for their children.    

However, it can be difficult to involve parents of babies or young children, and therefore is not done often. Because of this, a group in Alberta is currently doing research with parents whose babies are in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The goal of their research is to make a NICU patient and family satisfaction survey that will be used province-wide. In my study, I will evaluate the process they used to include parents when making the survey. My goals are to understand the roles of the parents, and to look at factors that affect their involvement, so it can be improved in the future. To do this, I will interview the seven parents who participated in the creation of the survey. Interview questions will be created using a framework to guide me, and data will be analyzed and managed appropriately. My work is focused on understanding and improving the way parents are engaged in child health research and the findings will help guide how researchers involve parents in child health research and the best ways that we can do this.