• chest physiotherapy;
  • neonatal intensive care;
  • newborn infant

Abstract Clinical techniques and protocols for chest physiotherapy vary greatly from one Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to another. In 1988 a questionnaire designed to investigate differing techniques used was distributed to Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) around Australia. Fourteen of the 15 questionnaires were completed and returned. The results revealed that the methods of chest treatment and the indicators for commencing chest treatment were similar throughout NICU. Both physiotherapists and nursing staff played a role in the performance of chest treatment in all but one unit where it was the responsibility of nursing staff. However, the area in which there was most variability between NICU was the individual treatment protocols employed pre- and postextubation of the neonate. A review of literature over the past 10 years also demonstrates variability in chest physiotherapy. It was concluded that further well-controlled studies with larger sample sizes are needed to validate the use of chest physiotherapy for the neonate, especially in relation to the techniques and specific protocols employed.