Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Communication


The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between verbal and tactile stimulations from medical and non-medical care providers to premature infants in an NICU, and the physiological reactions of the infants to the stimulations, as well as their recovery. Twenty-five premature infants admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit were included in the study. Independent variables included the number of times a care provider talked to or over the infant both with and without touch; the total number of touches in an interaction; the tactile interaction time; and the total interaction time. Dependent variables included the heart rate and oxygen saturation levels of the infant both before and after the interaction; total length of stay; respiratory and feeding progress; the number of days at each CHI and bed level (gross measure of medical severity); medication routines; and the number of diagnostic tests. The results of Pearson Product Moment Correlations, regression analyses, and partial correlations indicate moderate inverse relationships between independent variables and both physiological and several outcome variables. Interestingly all of the following: the total number of days 1) hospitalized, 2) on a ventilator, 3) at CHI4 and CHI3, 4) on antibiotics, 5) in an open bed, 6) on medications that affected heart rate, 7) NPO, 8) and on tube feedings decreased with an increase in most of the touch variables. These results are encouraging because they further support the positive implications of tactile stimulations for the recovery of premature infants. These results are provocative in that they contradict the nursing care practiced in the NICU during the critical stages of the infants' recovery when the stimulations had the most positive impact.


Attachment behavior in children, Touch, Auditory perception in children, Neonatal intensive care, Pediatric nursing

Rights Statement

Copyright © 1992, author