Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy



Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Dawn Lee Garzon PhD, CPNP


Taliaferro, Donna, Ph.D.


Borcherding, Kathy, Ph.D.

Burroughs, Thomas, Ph.D.

Calvert, Wilma, Ph.D.

Tenkku, Leigh, Ph.D.


This proposal seeks to understand the relationship between soothability, weight gain and length of hospital stay in premature infants when the infants receive a simple, non-invasive treatment to help them cope with the noxious environment of the special care nursery. Thousands of premature infants are born every year in the United States, and the numbers are increasing. Prematurity is the leading cause of mortality in infants. Despite numerous technological and medical advances in treatment and care, premature infants still have difficulty adapting to life outside the uterus as a result of immature nervous systems and significant differences in the pre and post delivery environments. Developmental Care and Family Centered Care have made significant improvements in the lives of hospitalized premature infants. However, care continues to be costly and complex, encouraging health care providers to continue to search for simpler and less expensive methods to care for these tiny patients. This paper describes the effect of a flax seed pillow, placed on the back of premature infants in a prone position on their ability to sooth themselves, moderate their activity, gain weight and the length of hospital stay. Each infant will receive two 15 minute treatments, twice a day, over the course of five consecutive days. Measurements will be obtained on various physiologic parameters including temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, and pain scores and activity. The design is a randomized control study, with infants stratified for birth weight. Infants in the treatment group had decreases in heart rate, respiratory rate and pain scores significantly greater than infants in the control group. Infants in the treatment group also gained more weight in the first three weeks of life, however this difference was lost by time of discharge. Hospital length of stay did not vary between the two groups. The treatment of the flax seed pillow is a new method to assist premature infants to cope with the stressful environment of the nursery. The pillow is simple, easy to use and was not associated with any adverse events. Further research is recommended to explore the efficacy of this intervention in other populations.

OCLC Number


Included in

Nursing Commons