Aim: The Australian New Zealand Neonatal Network undertook a project to close the evidence practice gap for the management of newborn pain in neonatal units within Australia. The aim was to establish a process for using evidence to support practice change and in doing so close the existing practice evidence gap for newborn pain.
Method: An implementation model using a clinical network with state facilitators, local champions and project teams was used in 24 tertiary units and six district hospitals throughout Australia. The process included audit and feedback, benchmarking, educational workshops on critical appraisal and audit of family awareness of pain. Multiple types of data were collected to enable changes in practices for pain management to be evaluated.
Results: There was a 21% overall improvement in the number of infants receiving breastfeeding or sucrose for procedural pain, however, breastfeeding rates remain poorly utilised. The use of a pain assessment tool increased from 14% to 22%, with 56% of units introducing the use of an assessment tool into their practice. Families became more aware that their infant can experience pain and strategies to manage the pain (from 19% to 57%) project through distribution of information.
Conclusion: The networks for the uptake of evidence program have enabled the topic of procedure pain in neonates to be evaluated. We have shown that through a well planned program of coordination, facilitation and using local champions and project teams a change in practice can occur.