NICU Nurses’ Attitudes Regarding Preterm Infant Massage

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When preterm infants are admitted in the NICU, mothers report experiencing uncertainty; powerlessness; loss of control; role alterations; fears to hold, feed, or touch the newborn; feelings of intrusion; and alienation in the NICU. Thus, preterm birth presents a risk for the early mother-infant relationship. NICU nurses play a crucial role in facilitating bonding between parents and infants through the provision of touch and massage to provide positive experiences for the mother and infant. Because no studies were found that systematically investigated NICU nurses’ attitudes regarding preterm infant massage (IM), this study was designed to explore nurses’ positive and negative attitudes regarding preterm IM. An exploratory descriptive research design with an online web-based survey was used. Data were collected using the Attitudes of Infant Massage Scale (AIMS), a self-report questionnaire consisting of demographic data, benefits of, concerns with, and nurses’ support for promoting IM in the NICU. Data analyses included descriptive analysis of demographic variables and instrument subscales; correlations between demographic variables (age, experience in nursing and NICU nursing) and benefits, concerns, and nurses’ support; and tests of differences across demographic variables (ethnicity and education) on benefits, concerns, and nurses’ support with and without controlling for age. The findings from this study indicated strong positive attitudes regarding benefits, nurses’ support, and low concerns and significant correlations between age, experience in nursing, and experience in NICU nursing and concerns, but not with benefits and nurses’ support. The results affirmed that neonatal nurses have strong positive attitudes regarding benefits of and nurses’ support, and very minor negative attitudes regarding concerns and issues with promoting IM in the NICU. This information is instrumental for designing an intervention whereby nurses would be willing to facilitate mother-infant attachment processes through the use of IM.

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NICU nurses' attitudes, Infant massage, preterm infants
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