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  1. Nist, Marliese Dion PhD, RNC-NIC
  2. Pickler, Rita H. PhD, RN, FAAN
  3. Harrison, Tondi M. PhD, RN, FAAN


Positive tactile experiences in the newborn period are critical to normal sensory development. Universal gloving in the neonatal intensive care unit has become a controversial issue in neonatal nursing practice. Intended to prevent infection among neonatal patients, universal gloving also hinders the provision of human touch. The purpose of this survey study was to (1) describe gloving policies in neonatal intensive care units, and (2) describe the gloving and touch practices of neonatal nurses and identify associations between these practices and demographic characteristics. The investigators developed a 19-question, anonymous survey. The survey link was distributed through the National Association of Neonatal Nurses' social media and newsletter. Of the 137 responses, only 22.1% of nurses reported unit policy requiring universal gloving. While nurses reported some ambiguity about gloving policies, surveyed nurses commonly used gloves when performing general care activities. Institutional gloving policies varied in this geographically diverse sample, but routine, bare-handed touch was an uncommon practice among neonatal nurses. Research evidence is needed to guide nursing practice and inform policy decisions regarding glove use in the neonatal intensive care unit.