Partnering to reduce neonatal pain

Research Opportunity
Honours students
Number of Honour Places Available
Department / Centre
Royal Women’s Hospital
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Professor Denise Harrison 0401534609 Personal web page

Summary Breastfeeding, skin-to-skin (SSC) and very small amounts of sugar water reduce pain in healthy, sick and premature infants during painful procedures, yet research conducted around the world shows these strategies are infrequently used in clinical practice. There are no current data regarding Australian newborn pain management practices. Through an online survey, this project will ascertain current newborn pain management practices at the Royal Women's Hospital (Parkville and Sandringham campuses), ascertain perceptions of a brief healthcare provider-targeted video in promoting use of breastfeeding and SSC ( and explore barriers and enablers to facilitating parents' involvement during painful neonatal procedures.

Project Details

All babies require newborn screening, in their first days of life, and sick and premature babies hospitalised in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) require repeated painful needle-related procedures during their hospitalisation. These procedures cause distress for babies and parents at the time, and repeated procedures increase risk of long-term developmental difficulties. High-quality evidence shows that babies’ pain during painful needles is reduced by breastfeeding or holding babies skin-to-skin (SSC)i, or giving babies small amounts (just a drop) of sugar water to suck. However, research shows these strategies are infrequently used in clinical practice. The aim of the study is to ascertain nurses’ and midwives’ use of breastfeeding and SSC for pain management, and determine the previous viewing, use, acceptability,and potential effectiveness of the Sweet2Babies Ergonomics video.

This study will be conducted in the postnatal services and NICU at both the RWH Parkvillecampus, and Sandringham campus postnatal and special care services. Data will be collected using an online survey, with closed ended and likert scale statements. In addition, an open text comment box will allow entry of further comments, which will be analysed using inductive content analysis. This study is being conducted by the Department of Nursing, University of Melbourne, in partnership with the Royal Women's Hospital Nursing and midwifery team.

Faculty Research Themes

Child Health

Research Opportunities

Honours students
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

Department / Centre


Research Node

Royal Women’s Hospital

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