Physiologic and behavioral effects of gentle human touch on preterm infants

Lynda Law Harrison, Anita Kay Williams, Michael L. Berbaum, John T. Stem, James Leeper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of a gentle human touch (GHT) intervention provided to 42 preterm infants (27-33 weeks gestational age), for 10 min, three times daily for 10 days. There was no significant difference in mean HR levels or in percent of abnormal heart rate (HR) or O2 saturation comparing 10-min baseline (B), GHT, and 10-min posttouch (PT) phases. There were significantly lower levels of active sleep, motor activity, and behavioral distress during GHT compared to B and P phases. There were no differences among the 42 infants in the GHT group and 42 infants in a randomly assigned control group on any outcome variable including weight gain, morbidity status, or behavioral organization. The findings suggest that GHT generally is a safe and soothing type of touch to provide to young preterm infants, but that individual infant responses to touch need to be continuously monitored by NICU staff and parents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-446
Number of pages12
JournalResearch in Nursing and Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2000


  • Gentle human touch
  • Preterm infants
  • Tactile stimulation


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