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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Skin-to-skin care for procedural pain in neonates

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, February 2017
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  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (98th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (95th percentile)

Mentioned by

4 news outlets
5 blogs
255 tweeters
13 Facebook pages
3 Wikipedia pages


229 Dimensions

Readers on

818 Mendeley
Skin-to-skin care for procedural pain in neonates
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, February 2017
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd008435.pub3
Pubmed ID

Celeste Johnston, Marsha Campbell-Yeo, Timothy Disher, Britney Benoit, Ananda Fernandes, David Streiner, Darlene Inglis, Rebekah Zee


Skin-to-skin care (SSC), often referred to as 'kangaroo care' (KC) due to its similarity with marsupial behaviour of ventral maternal-infant contact, is one non-pharmacological intervention for pain control in infants. The primary objectives were to determine the effect of SSC alone on pain from medical or nursing procedures in neonates compared to no intervention, sucrose or other analgesics, or additions to simple SSC such as rocking; and to determine the effects of the amount of SSC (duration in minutes), method of administration (e.g. who provided the SSC) of SSC in reducing pain from medical or nursing procedures in neonatesThe secondary objectives were to determine the safety of SSC care for relieving procedural pain in infants; and to compare the SSC effect in different postmenstrual age subgroups of infants. For this update, we used the standard search strategy of the Cochrane Neonatal Review group to search the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; 2016, Issue 1); MEDLINE via PubMed (1966 to 25 February 2016); Embase (1980 to 25 February 2016); and CINAHL (1982 to 25 February 2016). We also searched clinical trials' databases, conference proceedings, and the reference lists of retrieved articles for randomized controlled trials and quasi-randomized trials. Studies with randomisation or quasi-randomisation, double- or single-blinded, involving term infants (≥ 37 completed weeks' postmenstrual age (PMA) to a maximum of 44 weeks' PMA and preterm infants (< 37 completed weeks PMA) receiving SSC for painful procedures conducted by healthcare professionals. The main outcome measures were physiological or behavioural pain indicators and composite pain scores. A mean difference (MD) with 95% confidence interval (CI) using a fixed-effect model was reported for continuous outcome measures. We included variations on type of tissue-damaging procedure, provider of care, and duration of SSC. Twenty-five studies (n = 2001 infants) were included. Nineteen studies (n = 1065) used heel lance as the painful procedure, one study combined venepuncture and heel stick (n = 50), three used intramuscular injection (n = 776), one used 'vaccination' (n = 60), and one used tape removal (n = 50). The studies were generally strong and had low or uncertain risk of bias. Blinding of the intervention was not possible, making them subject to high risk, depending on the method of scoring outcomes.Seventeen studies (n = 810) compared SSC to a no-treatment control. Although 15 studies measured heart rate during painful procedures, data from only five studies (n = 161) could be combined for a mean difference (MD) of -10.78 beats per minute (95% CI -13.63 to -7.93) favouring SSC. Meta-analysis of four studies (n = 120) showed no difference in heart rate following the painful procedure (MD 0.08, 95% CI -4.39 to 4.55). Two studies (n = 38) reported heart rate variability with no significant differences. Two studies (n = 101) in a meta-analysis on oxygen saturation at 30 and 60 seconds following the painful procedure did not show a difference. Duration of crying meta-analysis was performed on four studies (n = 133): two (n = 33) investigated response to heel lance (MD = -34.16, 95% CI -42.86 to -25.45), and two (n = 100) following IM injection (MD = -8.83, 95% CI -14.63 to -3.02), favouring SSC. Five studies, one consisting of two substudies (n = 267), used the Premature Infant Pain Profile (PIPP) as a primary outcome, which favoured SCC at 30 seconds (MD -3.21, 95% CI -3.94 to -2.47), at 60 seconds (3 studies; n = 156) (MD -1.64, 95% CI -2.86 to -0.43), and at 90 seconds (n = 156) (MD -1.28, 95% CI -2.53 to -0.04); but at 120 seconds there was no difference (n = 156) (MD 0.07, 95% CI -1.11 to 1.25). No studies on return of heart rate to baseline level, cortisol levels, and facial actions could be combined for meta-analysis findings.Eight studies compared SSC to another intervention with or without a no-treatment control. Two cross-over studies (n = 80) compared mother versus other provider (father, another female) on PIPP scores at 30, 60, 90, and 120 seconds with no significant difference. When SSC was compared to other interventions, there were not enough similar studies to pool results in an analysis. One study compared SSC (n = 640) with and without dextrose and found that the combination was most effective and that SSC alone was more effective than dextrose alone. Similarly, in another study SSC was more effective than oral glucose for heart rate (n = 95). SSC either in combination with breastfeeding or alone was favoured over a no-treatment control, but not different to breastfeeding. One study compared SSC alone and in combination with both sucrose and breastfeeding on heart rate (HR), NIPS scores, and crying time (n = 127). The combinations were more effective than SSC alone for NIPS and crying. Expressed breast milk was compared to SSC in one study (n = 50) and found both equally effective on PIPP scores. There were not enough participants with similar outcomes and painful procedures to compare age groups or duration of SSC. No adverse events were reported in any of the studies. SSC appears to be effective as measured by composite pain indicators with both physiological and behavioural indicators and, independently, using heart rate and crying time; and safe for a single painful procedure. Purely behavioural indicators tended to favour SSC but with facial actions there is greater possibility of observers not being blinded. Physiological indicators were mixed although the common measure of heart rate favoured SSC. Two studies compared mother-providers to others, with non-significant results. There was more heterogeneity in the studies with behavioural or composite outcomes. There is a need for replication studies that use similar, clearly defined outcomes. Studies examining optimal duration of SSC, gestational age groups, repeated use, and long-term effects of SSC are needed. Of interest would be to study synergistic effects of SSC with other interventions.

Twitter Demographics

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 255 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.
Mendeley readers

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 818 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United States 1 <1%
Unknown 817 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Bachelor 103 13%
Student > Master 96 12%
Student > Ph. D. Student 62 8%
Researcher 56 7%
Student > Postgraduate 52 6%
Other 149 18%
Unknown 300 37%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Nursing and Health Professions 207 25%
Medicine and Dentistry 169 21%
Psychology 31 4%
Social Sciences 13 2%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 11 1%
Other 67 8%
Unknown 320 39%
Attention Score in Context

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 241. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 01 December 2022.
All research outputs
of 24,493,651 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
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Outputs of similar age
of 311,354 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 289 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 24,493,651 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 99th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 12,927 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 34.7. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 97% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 311,354 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 98% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 289 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 95% of its contemporaries.