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Nurses’ and Parents’ Perceptions of Parental Guidance on Using Nonpharmacological Pain-Relieving Methods Among Neonates in the NICU

Journal title
Pain management nursing : official journal of the American Society of Pain Management Nurses
Publication year
Polkki, T.; Laukkala, H.; Korhonen, A.

Despite growing knowledge of parents’ important role in their infants’ pain management, the extent to which nurses in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) provide guidance to parents on nonpharmacological methods is unclear. This study aimed to describe and compare the perceptions of parental guidance in using nonpharmacological pain-relieving methods among neonates in NICUs from the viewpoints of nurses and parents, and to examine the participants’ demographics related to the guidance. A cross-sectional, descriptive, correlational study using questionnaire surveys was conducted. Eight NICUs of 5 university hospitals in Finland. A total of 427 participants, including 294 nurses and 178 parents. The participants indicated that the methods of touching and holding were the most commonly introduced strategies in infants’ pain alleviation, as they were given as an alternative "nearly always/always" (nurses 91%, 87% and parents 61%, 58%, respectively). In contrast, music and breast-feeding were the less commonly introduced nonpharmacological methods (nurses 11%, 6% and parents 1%, 6%, respectively). A significant difference (p < .001) was found between the parents' and nurses' perceptions of parental guidance; nurses reported providing more guidance about all nonpharmacological methods compared with parents. In addition, many demographic factors of the nurses, the parents, and their infants were related to the parental guidance. Our findings indicate that parental guidance should not be based on nurses' evaluations of their activities without taking into account parents' perspectives. When counseling parents to use nonpharmacological methods, neonatal nurses should actively interact with families and discuss parents' individual needs.

Research abstracts