This article describes how sociopolitical, scientific, and technologic forces have influenced neonatal pain research and clinical practice. Changing beliefs about pain from the perspective of patients, physicians, nurses, and scientists investigating the neurobiology of pain are discussed. The impact of the development of the specialty of neonatology and its associated technologic advances on neonatal pain is explored. In addition, the influence of increased scientific knowledge about the neurodevelopment of the neonate and neurobiology of the sensory system on neonatal pain is presented. Finally, changes in society's views of children and the role of parents are addressed. The article concludes with a discussion of the relative importance of each of the factors in stimulating recent interest in neonatal pain. The opportunities for nurses to contribute to scientific research to improve the care of neonates in pain are highlighted.
© 1992 Aspen Publishers, Inc.