Background and aims Painful procedures in Neonatal Intensive Care Units are hard to avoid. We documented a drop in painful procedures from average 14 in 2001 to 12 in 2009 per patient per day. This study aimed to uncover how nursing and medical staff perceive the painfulness of these procedures and if perceptions have changed over time.
Methods Both in 2001 and 2009 nursing and medical staff rated the painfulness of 15 skin-breaking and 13 other procedures on a scale from 0 (not painful) to 10 (worst possible pain). The ratings of skin-breaking and other procedures served as outcome measures.
Results Response rates were 60% (N=58) and 72.4% (N=84) respectively in 2001 and 2009. The mean rating of the skin-breaking procedures decreased from 6.5 (SD 1.4) in 2001 to 6.1 (SD 1.5) in 2009 (p=0.18). The mean rating of other skin-breaking procedures decreased from 4.8 (SD 1.3) to 4.5 (SD 1.3) (p=0.25). Contrary to the trend, chest tube insertion was rated statistically significantly higher by nurses and physicians in 2009, p<0.001 and p=0.004 (Figure).
Conclusion Overall, perceptions of health professionals in our Neonatal ICU concerning painfulness of procedures have not changed significantly over time despite the introduction of pain reducing interventions such as sucrose and developmental care after 2001.