High variability in nurses’ tactile stimulation methods in response to apnoea of prematurity—A neonatal manikin study

Sophie J.E. Cramer, Henriëtte Anje van Zanten, Manon Boezaard, Petronella M. Hoek, Janneke Dekker, Stuart B. Hooper, Arjan B. te Pas

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses provide tactile stimulation to terminate apnoea in preterm infants, but guidelines recommending specific methods are lacking. In this study, we evaluated current methods of tactile stimulation performed by NICU nurses. Methods: Nurses were asked to demonstrate and explain their methods of tactile stimulation on a manikin, using an apnoea scenario. All nurses demonstrated their methods three times in succession, with the manikin positioned either prone, supine or lateral. Finally, the nurses were asked how they decided on the methods of tactile stimulation used. The stimulation methods were logged in chronological order by describing both the technique and the location. The nurses' explanations were transcribed and categorised. Results: In total, 47 nurses demonstrated their methods of stimulation on the manikin. Overall, 57 different combinations of technique and location were identified. While most nurses (40/47, 85%) indicated they learned how to stimulate during their training, 15/40 (38%) of them had adjusted their methods over time. The remaining 7/47 (15%) stated that their stimulation methods were self-developed. Conclusion: Tactile stimulation performed by NICU nurses to terminate apnoea was highly variable in both technique and location, and these methods were based on either prior training or intuition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799-804
Number of pages6
JournalActa Paediatrica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • apnoea of prematurity
  • neonatal intensive care
  • premature infants
  • tactile stimulation

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