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  1. Sood, Erica PhD
  2. Berends, Wilma M. MSN
  3. Butcher, Jennifer L. PhD
  4. Lisanti, Amy J. PhD, RN
  5. Medoff-Cooper, Barbara PhD, RN, FAAN
  6. Singer, Jayne PhD
  7. Willen, Elizabeth PhD
  8. Butler, Samantha PhD


Background: Developmental care practices across pediatric cardiac intensive care units (CICUs) have not previously been described.


Purpose: To characterize current developmental care practices in North American CICUs.


Methods: A 47-item online survey of developmental care practices was developed and sent to 35 dedicated pediatric CICUs. Staff members who were knowledgeable about developmental care practices in the CICU completed the survey.


Findings/Results: Completed surveys were received from 28 CICUs (80% response rate). Eighty-nine percent reported targeted efforts to promote developmental care, but only 50% and 43% reported having a developmental care committee and holding developmental rounds, respectively. Many CICUs provide darkness for sleep (86%) and indirect lighting for alertness (71%), but fewer provide low levels of sound (43%), television restrictions (43%), or designated quiet times (21%). Attempts to cluster care (82%) and support self-soothing during difficult procedures (86%) were commonly reported, but parental involvement in these activities is not consistently encouraged. All CICUs engage in infant holding, but practices vary on the basis of medical status and only 46% have formal holding policies.


Implications for Practice: Implementation of developmental care in the CICU requires a well-planned process to ensure successful adoption of practice changes, beginning with a strong commitment from leadership and a focus on staff education, family support, value of parents as the primary caregivers, and policies to increase consistency of practice.


Implications for Research: Future studies should examine the short- and long-term effects of developmental care practices on infants born with congenital heart disease and cared for in a pediatric CICU.