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developmental care, family-centered care, neonatal intensive care unit, shared surface, theoretical model



  1. Gibbins, Sharyn RN, PhD


Developmental care for high-risk infants is practiced in most neonatal units around the world. Despite its wide acceptance, inconsistency in its definition and application has resulted in criticism regarding its scientific merit. The universe of developmental care model proposed in this article is the first major reformulation of neonatal developmental care theory since Als' synactive theory. Neither the developing brain nor the environment exists in isolation, and therefore are dependent on each other for all caregiving activities. Central to this model is the concept of a shared surface, manifested most obviously by the skin that forms the critical link between the body/organism and environment and becomes the focal point for human interactions. The components of the model and its theoretical underpinnings, its practical application and direction for future clinical practice, education, and research are presented.