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Keywords:

  • behaviour;
  • concept analysis;
  • development;
  • infant;
  • neonatal neurobehavioural organization;
  • neonate;
  • newborn;
  • nursing

Abstract

Title. Concept clarification of neonatal neurobehavioural organization

Aim.  This paper is a report of a concept analysis of neonatal neurobehavioural organization for healthy full-term infants.

Background.  The neonatal period is an opportune time for researchers and clinicians to assess and intervene for optimal neurobehavioural organization. Yet there is inconsistency and lack of clarity in a scientifically grounded definition of neonatal neurobehavioural organization. Clarification of the concept will strengthen research findings that influence practice for optimal infant development.

Method.  A concept analysis of the literature between 1939 and 2007 (= 57) was conducted using Penrod and Hupcey’s principle-based concept analysis and Morse’s concept clarification.

Findings.  The concept analysis within and across multiple disciplines revealed: (1) a view of the concept as a holistic phenomenon with multiple dimensions; (2) no agreement on the ideal instrument to operationally define the concept; and (3) consistency in implied meaning, but great variability in terminology. Neonatal neurobehavioural organization was defined as the ability of the neonate to use goal-directed states of consciousness, in reciprocal interaction with the caregiving environment, to facilitate the emergence of differentiating, hierarchical, and coordinated neurobehavioural systems, with ever-increasing resiliency and capacity to learn from complex stimuli.

Conclusion.  A clear conceptual definition will help the international community to communicate effectively within and between disciplines and to apply evidence-based research findings. It will encourage the development of valid and reliable instruments to capture the concept’s multiple dimensions and direct attention to the infant’s experience, which sculpts early neurobehavioural organization.