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J Perinatol. 1999 Jan;19(1):48-52.

Developmental care teams in the neonatal intensive care unit: survey on current status.

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Department of Pediatrics, Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, MO 64108, USA.


Developmental Care Teams (DCT) have evolved in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) in response to mounting evidence that developmental care is cost-effective and improves outcomes of critically ill newborns. Lack of national practice guidelines and standardized roles for DCT members prompted formulation and distribution of a questionnaire to obtain information regarding staff membership of DCTs, budgeting for DCTs, utilization of developmental care in practice, and education and developmental training of NICU staff. Questionnaires were sent to 50 NICUs in 30 states, with a return rate of 62% (31 of 50), representing 18 different states. Of those who responded, 64% had a DCT, and an additional 24% were in various phases of starting a team. Forty-three percent of the teams meeting on a regular basis did so monthly. Only 30% of those with a DCT had a dedicated budget to cover operating costs of their developmental program. Fifty-two percent of respondents had Neonatal Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program (NIDCAP)-certified staff at their institutions; however, nine other types of developmental specialists were also listed. Only four respondents indicated utilization of set criteria for initiation of a DCT consult, and 74% of those with DCTs initiated consults "when the need arises." NIDCAP assessments were used for parent teaching (54%), care plans (69%), care recommendations (46%), and at caregiver "discretion" (39%). The results of the survey validated an intense interest in developmental care. Approach to developmental care is variable between NICUs and implementation as outlined by NIDCAP is unusual. Practical guidelines for utilization and funding of DCTs are needed.

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