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developmentally supportive care, individualized, NICU training and education, NIDCAP



  1. Lawhon, gretchen PhD, RN
  2. Hedlund, Rodd E. MEd


The Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program (NIDCAP) was developed from a multidisciplinary study of the preterm infant's behavior, and serves as a guide for the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) professional to provide individualized developmental care. Implementation of the NIDCAP approach has reduced the iatrogenic complications of prematurity and enhanced the infant's neurobehavioral competence. This theory- and evidence-based approach involves formal training and education and requires a multidisciplinary commitment to change within the context of the hospital system. Site assessment and self-assessment of individual trainees initiate the process for a thorough and reflective change in clinical practice within the NICU. The training consists of work sessions with the NIDCAP trainer, interspersed with guided independent neurobehavioral observations. The clinical report interprets the meaning of the infant's observed behavior within the context of the NICU environment, the infant's medical status, and the family concerns in order to best articulate the infant's goals, from which individualized suggestions for care are developed. NIDCAP is a system-wide intervention approach that strives to enhance relationships between infants and families and the professionals who care for them.