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Randomised controlled trial
Heel stick test for obtaining blood samples in neonates: both swaddling and heel warming may help, but heel warming appears to provide greater pain reduction
  1. Xiaomei Cong
  1. University of Connecticut, School of Nursing, Storrs, Connecticut, USA
  1. Correspondence to : Dr Xiaomei Cong, University of Connecticut, School of Nursing, 231 Glenbrook Road, Unit 4026, Storrs, CT 06269-4026, USA; xiaomei.cong{at}

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Implications for practice and research

  • Heel warming and swaddling are found to effectively reduce infant pain during heel stick tests for obtaining blood samples and can be used as pain interventions in routine neonatal practice.

  • The efficacy of swaddling and heel warming on neonatal pain can be added to the health professionals’ armoury for pain management in infants, especially in the intensive care environment.

  • The underpinning mechanisms of pain reduction by heel warming and swaddling may be different and need to be investigated in future studies.


An impressive body of research has found that neonates, including preterm infants, possess the ability to detect, perceive and respond to pain. …

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  • Competing interests None declared.