Aim: To investigate the application of skin-to-skin care (SSC) in the Nordic countries, the existence of guidelines for SSC and the attitudes of neonatal staff towards SSC.
Methods: One questionnaire was distributed at unit level and one at staff level in all Nordic neonatal intensive care units (n = 109).
Results: The unit questionnaire was answered by 95 (87%) units and the staff questionnaire by 1446 staff members (72%). All units offered SSC to various degrees, but guidelines only existed at 47% of them. Units in Denmark, Norway and Sweden seemed to use SSC earlier, longer and in more medically complicated situations than units in Finland and Iceland. Seventy-seven per cent of the units had private rooms where parents and infants could stay together, still the physical environment of the units limited the use of SSC. Medical risks were considered the main barrier for further implementation of SSC, while general development and early interaction were the most frequently mentioned benefits.
Conclusion: Skin-to-skin care is implemented in all Nordic neonatal units, but offered to various degrees, to various populations and to varying extents. Danish, Norwegian and Swedish units are offering SSC more extensively than units in Finland and Iceland.