Acceptance of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: A Launching Point

Author: Julie Johnson Rolfes 1, Kimberly Christensen 2 3, Lynn A Gershan 2 3
1 Division of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 2 Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 3 Pediatric Integrative Health and Wellbeing, University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Conference/Journal: Glob Adv Health Med
Date published: 2020 May 7
Other: Volume ID: 9 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1177/2164956120924644 , Word Count: 257

PMID: 32426181 PMCID: PMC7218323 DOI: 10.1177/2164956120924644
Background: Because neonatology is a relatively new medical specialty, it is host to on-going, rapid adaptation and evolution of medical treatments and practices. This process has almost exclusively focused on Western, biomedical treatment modalities, without inclusion of potentially beneficial Traditional Chinese Medicine practices. It is unclear how receptive health-care providers in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and families of NICU patients would be to the introduction of adapted Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments into the NICU environment.

Objective: To assess the potential for engagement of patients, families, and staff in the NICU with Traditional Chinese Medicine therapies and to provide targeted education and low-risk Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments to support the health and well-being of those 3 groups.

Methods: A feasibility pilot study including weekly walk-in Traditional Chinese Medicine sessions within the NICU for parents and staff, and neonatal patient consultations, both of which included hands-on therapies and education tailored to each participant's unique needs. Pre- and postsurveys were administered over 3 phases.

Results: Walk-in sessions were attended by 83 adults and participants reported benefits, with no ill effects. There were 5 neonatal consultations with staff expressing an interest in more. Several obstacles to accessing Traditional Chinese Medicine modalities were identified in pre-surveys and were addressed with education and preemptive modifications to the therapies offered.

Conclusion: Acceptance of Traditional Chinese Medicine modalities in the NICU opens the door to future studies implementing integrative health services into the NICU care model.

Keywords: Qigong sensory training; Traditional Chinese Medicine; acupoint; attitudes; implementation and dissemination; inpatient-medicine.

© The Author(s) 2020.