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Therapeutic touch with preterm infants: composing a treatment.

BACKGROUND: Therapeutic touch (TT), a complementary therapy, has been shown to decrease stress, anxiety, and pain in adults and children, as well as improve mobility in patients with arthritis and fibromyalgia. However, less has been reported about the effectiveness of this therapy with infants, particularly preterm infants. OBJECTIVES: The aims of this research study were to explore the nature of the use of TT with preterm infants and describe a TT treatment process for this vulnerable population. DESIGN: Narrative inquiry and qualitative descriptive methods were used to discover knowledge about how TT is used with preterm infants. DATA COLLECTION: Telephone/in-person interviews and written narratives provided the data describing nurses' use of TT with preterm infants. PARTICIPANTS: The participants were registered nurses who practiced TT with preterm infants for varying years of experience. RESULTS: The participants described the responses of infants, 25 to 37 weeks postgestational age, whom they treated with TT. The infants' responses to TT included reduced heart and respiratory rates, enhanced ability to rest, improved coordination in sucking, swallowing, and breathing, and a greater ability to engage with the environment. The practitioners described the phases and elements of TT for preterm infants, which revealed unique patterns, for example, the treatment phase included the elements of smoothing and containing. CONCLUSION: The description that emerged from the practitioners' narratives of the TT treatment process for preterm infants provides preliminary data for the systematic use and evaluation of TT as an adjunct to facilitating preterm infants' physiological, behavioral, energy field development, and well-being.

Hanley MA. School of Nursing, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, TX. Explore (NY). 2008 Jul-Aug;4(4):249-58.

Posted: 08/12/2008

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