Aims and objectives: To determine the efficacy of swaddling and heel warming on pain response in neonates following heel stick.
Background: Swaddling has been suggested to reduce pain response in neonates during heel stick. Heel warming is also often performed for drawing blood easily before heel stick. However, the efficacy of both on pain response is unclear.
Design: A randomised controlled study was used.
Methods: Twenty-five neonates were randomly assigned to each of the control, swaddling and heel-warming groups. Heart rate, oxygen saturation Neonatal Infant Pain Scale and duration of crying were used to assess pain reactivity and pain recovery. A greater heart rate and Neonatal Infant Pain Scale increase, or oxygen saturation decrease, indicated higher pain reactivity. A longer duration of heart rate and oxygen saturation changes after heel stick back to baseline indicated a longer pain recovery.
Results: The decrease in oxygen saturation in swaddling group was significantly greater than that in heel-warming group. The increase in the Neonatal Infant Pain Scale in control group was significantly higher than that in swaddling group. The heart rate recovery time in control group and swaddling group was significantly longer than that in heel-warming group. The oxygen saturation recovery time in control group was significantly longer than that in heel-warming group. The duration of crying in control group was significantly longer than those in swaddling group and heel-warming group.
Conclusion: Both swaddling and heel warming decreased the pain response of neonates during heel stick. Heel warming resulted in a lower pain response than did swaddling for neonates, particularly in terms of pain recovery.
Relevance to clinical practice: Heel warming could become a routine practice to decrease the pain response of neonates during heel stick.
Keywords: heel stick; heel warming; neonates; pain responses; swaddling.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.