The purpose of this study was to conduct an integrated review of the literature examining the use of non-pharmacologic pain management strategies in premature neonates and to explore the relationship between health outcomes and time to discharge from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Non-pharmacologic pain management strategies include human touch, facilitated tucking, non-nutritive sucking, and kangaroo care. A systematic review of the literature was conducted from multiple online databases. Peer reviewed, English-language articles containing the keywords ‘pain management’, ‘neonatal intensive care unit’, and ‘non-pharmacologic’ were included for synthesis. Exclusion criteria included articles with a focus on infants not admitted to the NICU and infants with a gestational age greater than 37 weeks. Results revealed positive outcomes when alternative pain-relieving methods, rather than drug therapy, were used in the NICU. A majority of articles suggest facilitated tucking is very successful in lowering a preterm infant’s pain. However, facilitated tucking alone was significantly less effective in relieving procedural pain compared to facilitated tucking in combination with oral sucrose administration. Kangaroo care and gentle human touch also proved to reduce physiologic and behavioral signs of pain in neonates. The literature reveled an overall positive outcome when non-pharmacologic pain interventions are used in the NICU, with some behavioral interventions showing better efficacy than others at relieving neonatal pain. None of the reviewed articles explored the relationship between reduced length of stay and parameters assessing health outcomes based on pain control in neonates. The literature indicated nurses play a significant role in the use of pain-relieving methods in neonatal populations. Implications for future research that focuses on successful behavioral based pain management strategies that assists in refining neonatal pain relief would be of great benefit to improving health outcomes related to infant survival after discharge from the NICU.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

D'Amato-Kubiet, Leslee


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)


College of Nursing


UCF Daytona Beach



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date

August 2016