The traumatic experiences of parents of babies treated with therapeutic hypothermia (TH) have been described. No research has assessed neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse experience in providing care to hypothermic babies and emotional support to their parents.Purpose:
To assess NICU nurse attitudes to the provision of TH with respect to perceptions about baby pain/sedation, need for nurse and parent education, decision making about initiation of TH, and barriers to best care.Methods:
A survey was electronically sent to 219 nurses at 2 affiliated academic level III NICUs: 1 rural and 1 urban location. There were 17 questions where responses were selected from a preset list and 7 opportunities for nurses to provide free text responses.Findings:
The response rate was 38% (N = 83). Overwhelming similarities between the urban and rural institutions were found with NICU nurses expressing understanding of the indications for initiating TH, agreement that TH improves long-term outcomes and that the benefits of TH outweigh the risks. Nurses at the urban institution more frequently expressed concerns surrounding inadequate treatment of baby pain/sedation, and nurses at both institutions strongly emphasized the need for more nurse and parent education about TH and improved timeliness of decision making for initiation of TH.Implications for Practice:
NICU nurses specifically want to learn more about outcomes of babies after treatment with TH and feel that parents need more education about TH.Implications for Research:
Research is urgently needed to better understand the implications of TH treatment for parent–baby bonding.