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Psychometric testing of the developmental care scale for neonates with congenital heart disease

  • Sara Arter (a1), Elaine Miller (a1), Tamilyn Bakas (a1) and David S Cooper (a2)



Developmental care of neonates with CHD is essential for proper neurodevelopment. Measurement of developmental care specific to these neonates is needed to ensure consistent implementation within and across cardiac ICUs. The purpose of this study was to psychometrically test the Developmental Care Scale for Neonates with Congenital Heart Disease, which measures the quality of developmental care provided by bedside nurses to neonates in the cardiac ICU.


Psychometric testing was conducted with 119 cardiac ICU nurses to provide evidence of internal consistency reliability and construct validity. Participants were predominantly young (median = 32 years), white (90%) females (93%) with bachelor’s degrees (78%) and a median experience in the cardiac ICU of 7 years.


Evidence of internal consistency reliability (α =.89) was provided with corrected item-total correlations ranging from .31 to .77. Exploratory factor analysis provided evidence of construct validity as a unidimensional scale, as well as a multidimensional scale consisting of four subscales: creating the external environment, assessment of family well-being, caregiver activities toward the neonate, and basic human needs.


Evidence of reliability and validity of the 31-item Developmental Care Scale for Neonates with Congenital Heart Disease was established with nurses caring for neonates in the cardiac ICU. This instrument will serve as a valuable outcome measure tasked with improving developmental care performance and makes it possible to identify relationships between developmental care performance and neonatal neurodevelopmental outcomes in future research.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: S. Arter, College of Nursing, University of Cincinnati, 3110 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA. Phone: +15135582610; Fax: +15135561105; E-mail:


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