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Procedural Pain Management for Neonates Using Nonpharmacological Strategies

Part 1

Sensorial Interventions

Fernandes, Ananda, PhD, MSN, RN; Campbell-Yeo, Marsha, PhD(c), NNP-BC, MN, RN; Johnston, C. Celeste, DEd, RN

Section Editor(s): Ikuta, Linda

doi: 10.1097/ANC.0b013e318225a2c2
Foundations in Newborn Care

Neonates who are born preterm and are admitted to neonatal intensive care units endure frequent procedures that may be painful. Nonpharmacological interventions that have been studied to relieve their pain may be categorized in 2 main groups according to their nature: interventions that focus on creating a favorable environment and offering pleasant sensorial stimuli and interventions that are centered on maternal care. These interventions may be considered within the philosophy of developmental care, since they are aimed at adjusting the environment to the needs of the neonate and involve family-centered care. In this article, the first of a 2-part series, we will synthesize the evidence from experimental studies of interventions that focus on the environment and on tactile and gustatory stimulation. The mechanisms suggested by researchers as possible explanations for the efficacy of these interventions are pointed, and the implications for procedural pain management in neonatal care are drawn.

Coimbra College of Nursing, Coimbra, Portugal (Ms Fernandes); IWK Health Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; and McGill University, Montréal, Quebec, Canada (Mss Campbell-Yeo and Johnston).

Correspondence: Ananda Fernandes, PhD, MSN, RN, Escola Superior de Enfermagem de Coimbra, 3000-009 Coimbra, Portugal (

© 2011 National Association of Neonatal Nurses