Applying the RE-AIM framework to evaluate the implementation of the Supporting and Enhancing NICU Sensory Experiences (SENSE) program

Roberta Pineda, Jessica Roussin, Jenny Kwon, Elizabeth Heiny, Graham Colditz, Joan Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: To maximize the benefit of parent-directed, positive sensory exposures in the NICU, a structured sensory-based program titled the Supporting and Enhancing NICU Sensory Experiences (SENSE) program was developed that includes specific doses and targeted timing of evidence-based sensory exposures. Methods: The Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, Maintenance (RE-AIM) framework was used to systematically evaluate the SENSE program as an implementation strategy. One-hundred preterm infants ≤32 weeks gestation were studied (61 receiving the SENSE program and 39 standard-of-care). Parent education time and infant sensory exposures were tracked, and parents completed a questionnaire that probed their perceptions about the SENSE program. Results: One-hundered thirty-one families were recruited, and 100 (76%) enrolled. The SENSE program was initiated at an average postmenstrual age of 29.8 (±2.4) weeks; 4.9 (±5.6) days after birth. The average number of education sessions with families was 4.8 (±3.7) amounting to 72.3 (±37.4) total minutes over hospitalization. The total time of logged tactile and auditory exposures among SENSE recipients over the length of hospitalization was a median (IQ range) of 9325 (5295-15,694) minutes over an average of 10.1 (±7.6) weeks of hospitalization. There were differences in the proportion of tactile and auditory exposure targets received by the infant among those receiving the SENSE program compared to standard-of-care (91% compared to 48%; p < 0.0001). Ninety-five percent of infants tolerated the SENSE program as defined, with 5% of infants requiring intermittent adaptations or the interventions being stopped for a period that typically lasted 1–2 weeks. Earlier parent education was related to more parent participation in SENSE program interventions (p = 0.04). Eighty-five percent of participants receiving the SENSE program had most of the sensory interventions completed by parents, as opposed to the medical or sensory support team. Seventy-two percent of infants had at least 100% of the auditory and tactile doses conducted over the length of stay. Parents reported acceptability. Conclusion: The SENSE program had good reach, was effective and acceptable with minimal cost, was adopted, and had good fidelity. Insights from implementation of the SENSE program (within a research study) informed future strategies to aid maintenance during dissemination.

Original languageEnglish
Article number137
JournalBMC Pediatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Adoptability
  • Effectiveness
  • Environment
  • Fidelity
  • Maintenance
  • Outcomes
  • Parent
  • Preterm
  • Reach
  • Therapy


Dive into the research topics of 'Applying the RE-AIM framework to evaluate the implementation of the Supporting and Enhancing NICU Sensory Experiences (SENSE) program'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this