Master of Science
The purposes of this ex post facto research study were to answer the following questions:
1. What is the length of time required for glass thermometers to register the temperature in neonates at the rectal and axillary sites?
2. Do significant differences exist between simultaneous axillary and rectal temperature recordings in neonates?
3. What is the relationship between axillary and rectal temperature recordings at specified time intervals in neonates?
A sample of 30, full-term neonates was obtained from the Newborn Nursery of a large teaching hospital in the Middle Atlantic region. All participants were over 24 hours of age and weighed greater than 2,500 grams. Each subject had simultaneous axillary and rectal temperature recordings made at one minute intervals over a 12 minute period.
Data analysis was performed which determined thermometer placement time, mean, range and standard deviation of temperature recordings, level of significance for the differences between axillary and rectal sites, and the correlation between rectal and axillary temperature recordings.
On the basis of the data analysis, the data from this study supported the two stated hypotheses:
1. Significant differences exist between simul- taneous axillary and rectal temperature recordings in neo-
nates (p < .01).
2. There is a direct and positive correlation between axillary and rectal temperature recordings at specified time intervals in neonates (p < .01).
The following conclusions were also drawn from these data:
1. The maximum placement time for rectal thermometers to register the neonate's temperatures was eight minutes. The optimum placement time for rectal thermometers was four minutes.
2. The maximum placement time for axillary ther- mometers to register the neonate's temperatures was 12 minutes. The optimum placement time for axillary thermometers was eight minutes.
3. The mean rectal maximum temperature in neonates was 99.05 plus or minus .49 degrees Fahrenheit. The mean rectal optimum temperature was 98.88 plus or minus .51 degrees Fahrenheit. 84
4. The mean axillary maximum and optimum temperatures in neonates were 98.87 plus or minus .47 degrees Fahrenheit and 98.7 plus or minus .48 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively.
5. The mean difference between maximum rectal and axillary recordings was 0.18 degrees Fahrenheit. The mean difference between optimum rectal and axillary recordings was 0.19 degrees Fahrenheit.
Implications for Nursing
As a result of this study, the following implications for nursing practice are implied:
1. A longer thermometer placement time for determining rectal and axillary temperature recordings in neonates may be indicated.
2. Although significant differences between simul- taneous axillary and rectal temperature recordings exist in neonates (p<.01), the small difference (i.e., 0.18 degrees Fahrenheit for maximum temperatures and 0.19 degrees Fahrenheit for optimum temperatures) between the two sites may not greatly influence nursing care of neonates.
3. In a constant environmental temperature,axillary and rectal temperature recordings may be used interchangeably in neonates (based on #2, above).
Recommendations for Further Study
It is recommended that this study be replicated:
1. Using a larger sample size of neonates to retest this study's hypotheses.
2. Comparing axillary and rectal temperature recordings of a clinical glass thermometer with an electronic thermometer.
3. Specifically determine if gender, age, race, or weight influence thermometer placement time in neonates.
4. Comparing neonatal temperatures in varying environmental temperatures.
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