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Evidence for Best Practices in the Neonatal Period

Beal, Judy A. DNSc, RN

MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: November-December 2005 - Volume 30 - Issue 6 - p 397-403

The purpose of this article is to provide a review of current nursing research that supports best practices during the newborn period. The literature review of peer-reviewed research articles published between January 2000 and October 2004 was conducted via keyword searches using the databases of the Cochrane Library, CINAHL, and MEDLINE. Key words included neonatal nursing, newborn, neonate, premature infant, preterm infant, and low birthweight. Content analysis revealed the following primary categories of studies that provide solid evidence for nursing practice: developmentally focused nursing care, neonatal skin care, feeding, skin-to-skin care, and pain management. Neonatal nurse researchers have made many important contributions to the research literature. Future research should expand the findings to date on the effective use of pain scales, the outcomes of skin-to-skin care and infant massage as standard practice for all neonates, and the effectiveness of nursing interventions to support the developmental sequelae of prematurity. Neonatal nurses should become familiar with and implement those findings from nursing research that strongly support evidence-based nursing practice.

Nurse researchers have been very productive in the field of neonatal nursing. Which practices are evidence-based and which are not? Are you practicing using the best evidence?

Judy A. Beal, DNSc, RN, is Chair and Professor of Nursing and Associate Dean, School for Health Studies at Simmons College, Boston, and an Editorial Board Member of MCN. She can be reached via e-mail at

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.