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2015 Small Grant Winner

Thao Griffith, PhD(c) BSN RN

University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing
The Effects of Tube Feedings on Preterm Infant Nutritive Feeding Organization

At what institute are you currently conducting your research?
I am currently conducting my dissertation research at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.

What is the main focus of your research?
The main focus of my research is to understand the relationship among tube feedings, behavioral organization, and oral feeding success in preterm infants.

How did receiving the NANN Research Institute's Small Grants Award positively impact your career?
It must be emphasized that this award plays a significant role in my career developments by providing a major financial assistant for my dissertation research. The award provides the funding to support the anticipated expenses to carry out my dissertation research and allows me to successfully conduct my dissertation research. One of the important aspects of this research is ensuring the high reliability of infant behavior coding. This aspect requires 2 coders in order to establish inter-rater reliability. The funding allows me to hire a Research Assistant, aiding in ensuring the high reliability of my study.

For the next 2 years, I will be dedicating my time in the conduction of my dissertation research. While trying to work part-time to support my family and finding funding sources to support my tuition for the next two years, I am in need of funding to adequately conduct my dissertation research. I am honored that NANN Research Institute values and believes in my work. By providing me this award, NANN Research Institute has lightened the financial burden, so I can focus on successfully carrying out my dissertation research. I am beyond thankful for the generosity and support. I will do my very best to be successful and develop expertise in neonatal research, contribute to neonatal science, and shape the future of nursing research.

Why is your work important and how does it advance the field of neonatal nursing?
More than half of a million infants are born prematurely each year in the U.S. Many of them receive tube feedings for an extended duration. While tube feedings are vital for many preterm infants to maintain adequate intake while conserving energy for growth, they may associate with delayed oral feeding success. My dissertation research has the potential to inform clinical practice regarding how tube feedings are associated with behavioral organization and oral feeding success. The findings will help fill the critical gap in the oral feeding science and may potentially guide clinicians in tube feeding practices in the NICU. The findings may further guide the development and testing of early interventions to support the process of tube feeding transition, facilitating high quality behavioral organization prior to and during feeding, and oral feeding success. Future research may also utilize the data as a baseline when comparing the effectiveness of interventions, e.g. non-nutritive sucking stimulation, sensory-motor-oral stimulation, Auditory/Tactile/Visual/Vestibular intervention, etc., in preterm infants who are receiving tube feedings.

In what ways does NANN membership add value to your professional development?
Joining NANN gives me the opportunity to join a valuable community of neonatal nurses who strive each and every day to optimize the care for our little patients and their families. Through NANN membership, I can see myself thriving to influence, collaborate, and learn. I can reach out and collaborate with other members who have similar interests with the myNANN feature. The weekly NANN SmartBrief keeps me up-to-date regarding the neonatal news. The printed and online journals from NANN allow me to update my knowledge. I can apply what I learned from the journals to strengthen and clarify my dissertation research, as well as beginning to think about my future research.