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Barriers to Knowledge Translation Regarding the Use of Probiotics as a Risk-Reduction Strategy for Necrotizing Enterocolitis

Anderson, Sharon DNP, NNP-BC, APNG

Section Editor(s): Dowling, Donna PhD, RN

doi: 10.1097/ANC.0000000000000270
Original Research

Background: Increasingly, evidence supports enteral probiotics are an important risk-reduction strategy for necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) among very low birth-weight and extremely low birth-weight preterm infants. Yet, the majority of providers remain reluctant to implement practice changes.

Purpose: The aim of this study was to better understand the discrepancy between the available evidence and clinical practice regarding the use of probiotics and other NEC prevention strategies in New Jersey.

Methods: Using an exploratory descriptive design, a multimodal interprofessional survey was developed and executed to elicit intensive care nursery provider knowledge, views, and current practice.

Results: Although the sample size was small (N = 29), approximately one-half of respondents familiar with the literature rated the quality of the evidence regarding probiotics as “above average” to “excellent.” These respondents were “very likely” to “extremely likely” to recommend probiotics as an NEC prevention strategy; however, none actually prescribed this intervention. The most important reason respondents did not prescribe probiotics was the focus on providing exclusive maternal and donor breast milk feedings. Other confounding factors included provision of oral colostrum care, standardized feeding protocols, and withholding feedings during blood transfusion.

Implications for Practice: Study results suggested that some providers (primarily nurses) were not familiar with probiotic literature, which may contribute to deficits in knowledge translation to practice.

Implications for Research: Areas for future study include identifying improved mechanisms for knowledge dissemination, recognizing and addressing barriers and facilitators to knowledge translation, and understanding how probiotics fit and/or contrast with other NEC risk-reduction strategies in the research and clinical settings.

La Salle University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Rutgers School of Nursing, Newark, New Jersey; and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Child Health Institute of New Jersey, New Brunswick.

Correspondence: Sharon Anderson, DNP, NNP-BC, APNG, Rutgers School of Nursing, 65 Bergen St, Room 1018, Newark, NJ 07101 (

The author declares no conflicts of interest.

© 2016 by The National Association of Neonatal Nurses