Parents' Use of Nonpharmacologic Methods to Manage Procedural Pain in Infants

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To describe parents' use of nonpharmacologic methods to manage infant procedural pain in the NICU and determine the demographic factors related to such use.


A cross-sectional and descriptive study design.


Level III and Level II NICUs (seven units) of four University Hospitals in Finland.


Parents (N = 178) whose infants were treated in Finnish NICUs.


Parents were asked to respond to a structured questionnaire during their infants' hospitalizations. We analyzed the data using the nonparametric Kruskal–Wallis one-way analysis of variance and Mann–Whitney U test.


Most parents reported that they used physical methods, such as touching, holding, and positioning, nearly always/always (86%, 76%, and 55%, respectively). However, less commonly used strategies included recorded music (2%), breastfeeding (2%), and non-nutritive sucking with oral sucrose (6%). Many characteristics of the infants, such as their gestational ages and their conditions, were significantly related to the implementation of nonpharmacologic methods.


There is a clear need to extend parents' use of nonpharmacologic methods to manage their infants' procedural pain in the NICU. Because many methods were not considered as pain-relieving strategies, it is important to increase knowledge about the effectiveness of these interventions among parents and nurses.

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