The effects of comfort care on the pain response in preterm infants undergoing screening for retinopathy of prematurity

Retina. 2005 Jan;25(1):59-62. doi: 10.1097/00006982-200501000-00008.


Objective: The aim of the study was to determine if pain and distress during the retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) screening examination could be ameliorated by providing comfort care.

Study design: This study was a prospective, randomized, controlled trial of 30 stable preterm infants who underwent initial ROP screening examinations. Fourteen study infants were swaddled, held, and given 24% sucrose solution during the examination. Sixteen controls were examined while lying in their cribs. Vital signs (i.e., pulse rate, respiratory rate, and oxygen saturation), crying time, and time for the vital signs to return to baseline values were recorded at different times during the examination.

Results: The vital signs did not vary significantly between the two groups. The participants in the control group had a trend of longer crying time, but this trend did not reach a level of statistical significance. In addition, The time required for the vital signs to return to their baseline values did not vary significantly.

Conclusion: ROP screening is very distressful for preterm infants. The routine use of comfort care to reduce pain during the examination could not be supported by this study.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Crying
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Ophthalmological*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant Care / methods*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Neonatal Screening / methods*
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Pain / nursing
  • Pain / prevention & control*
  • Patient Care / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity / diagnosis*
  • Sleep
  • Stress, Psychological / nursing
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*


  • Oxygen