The term “oral feeding success” (OFS) is frequently used in clinical practice and research. However, OFS is inconsistently defined, which impacts the ability to adequately evaluate OFS, identify risk factors, and implement interventions in clinical practice and research.
To develop the defining attributes, antecedents, and consequences for the concept of OFS in preterm infants during their initial hospitalization.
PubMed, CINAHL, and PsycINFO databases were searched for English articles containing the key words “oral feeding success” and “preterm infants.” The Walker and Avant method for concept analysis was employed.
Sixteen articles revealed the defining attributes, antecedents, and consequences. Defining attributes included (1) physiologic stability; (2) full oral feeding; and (3) combined criteria of feeding proficiency (≥30% of the prescribed volume during the first 5 minutes), feeding efficiency (≥1.5 mL/min over the entire feeding), and intake quantity (≥80% of the prescribed volume).
Implications for Practice:
The 3 defining attributes may be used in clinical practice to consistently evaluate OFS. The antecedents of OFS provide clinicians with a frame of reference to assess oral feeding readiness, identify risk factors, and implement effective interventions. The consequences of OFS allow clinicians to anticipate challenges when OFS is not achieved and create a care plan to support the infants.
Implications for Research:
The empirical referents of OFS provide consistent and clear operational definitions of OFS for use in research. The antecedents and consequences may guide researchers to select specific measures or covariates to evaluate valid measures of OFS.