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Implementation of a pilot program of Reach Out and Read® in the neonatal intensive care unit: a quality improvement initiative



Language exposure is important for neurodevelopment, but is sparse in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Study design:

We introduced Reach Out and Read (ROR) in the NICU as a quality improvement initiative to increase language exposure. Measures included availability of books, accessibility of parents, and enrollment of infants, percent infants read to by their parents, and data from parental surveys.


98 infants were included (40 before, 58 after). We obtained books in the mother’s language for 95% of infants, 82% eligible infants were enrolled, and 70% read to their infants (mean of 0.45 ± 0.35 times/day). Surveyed parents enjoyed reading, noted positive effect(s), and intended to read post-discharge.


We launched a well-received pilot ROR program in the NICU and reached our goal of ≥50% infants being read to by their parents. Further study is needed to assess the impact of reading in the NICU on parents and infants.

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This work was supported by grants from Reach Out and Read of Massachusetts and the Cabot Family Charitable Trust, as well as the Boston Medical Center Elaine Ullian Fund.

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Correspondence to Bernadette M. Levesque.

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All authors are responsible for this reported research. Dr. Levesque currently serves as a consultant to Reach Out and Read of Massachusetts to provide training for other neonatal intensive care units in Massachusetts who are interested in introducing Reach Out and Read in their units. Alison Corning-Clarke and Carole Ferguson are both employed by Reach Out and Read of Massachusetts. The remaining authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Levesque, B.M., Tran, A., Levesque, E. et al. Implementation of a pilot program of Reach Out and Read® in the neonatal intensive care unit: a quality improvement initiative. J Perinatol 38, 759–766 (2018).

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