The efficacy of facilitated tucking for relieving procedural pain of endotracheal suctioning in very low birthweight infants

Charlotte Ward-Larson, Robert A. Horn, Florence Gosnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study compared the efficacy of a behavioral pain reducing intervention (facilitated tucking) with standard neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) care for decreasing procedural pain (endotracheal suctioning) in very low birthweight (VLBW) infants. Study Design and Methods: A prospective randomized crossover design with infants as their own controls were used. The sample consisted of 40 VLBW infants, 23-32 weeks gestation, and weighing 560-1498 g with tracheal intubation. The infants were observed twice during each endotracheal suctioning experience; one suctioning was done according to normal nursery routine; another was done using facilitated tucking (the caregiver "hand-swaddling" the infant by placing a hand on the infant's head and feet while providing flexion and containment). The Premature Infant Pain Profile (PIPP) measured the infant's pain response, and severity of illness of each infant was measured by the Score for Neonatal Acute Physiology (SNAP) and the NTISS (Neonatal Therapeutic Intervention Scoring System). Repeated measures analysis of variance (RMANOVA) determined the efficacy of facilitated tucking for reducing procedural pain (PIPP) and the effects of order of intervention vs. control. Regression analyses examined the relationship of gestational age, severity of illness, and number of painful procedures to the pain response. Results: There was a significant difference between the PIPP scores for tucking and nontucking positions (p = 0.001) and a nonsignificant interaction with order (p = 0.64) as well as a nonsignificant main effect for order (p = 0.46). In the regression analyses, all predictors taken together did not significantly predict PIPP scores in the tucked position (p = 0.11) or nontucked position (p = 0.57). Clinical Implications: Facilitated tucking is a developmentally sensitive, nonpharmacological comfort measure that can relieve procedural pain in VLBW infants. Nurses need to be increasingly aware of infant pain during daily care taking, and to use validated pain assessment instruments. Further clinical research on individual pain assessment is needed for better understanding of the quality and significance of pain for each infant, and the factors that affect pain expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-157
Number of pages7
JournalMCN The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004


  • Endotracheal suctioning
  • Facilitated tucking
  • Pain
  • VLBW infants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (nursing)
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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