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The Impact of Dry Versus Moist Heat on Peripheral IV Catheter Insertion in a Hematology-Oncology Outpatient Population

Regina M. Fink
Ellen Hjort
Barbara Wenger
Paul F. Cook
Mary Cunningham
Aimee Orf
Wendy Pare
Jennifer Zwink
ONF 2009, 36(4), E198-E204 DOI: 10.1188/09.ONF.E198-E204

Purpose/Objectives: To determine whether dry versus moist heat application to the upper extremity improves IV insertion rates.

Design: Two-group, randomized, controlled clinical design.

Setting: An academic cancer infusion center in the western United States.

Sample: 136 hematologic outpatients with cancer or other malignancies.

Methods: Participants were randomly assigned to dry or moist heat with warmed towels wrapped around each patient's arm for seven minutes prior to IV insertion. Skin and room temperatures were monitored pre- and postwarming. Two experienced chemotherapy infusion nurses performed the venipunctures according to protocol. Outcomes were examined using variance analysis, with 34 patients for each combination of nurse and heat type.

Main Research Variables: Number of IV insertion attempts, time to achieve IV insertion postheating, patient anxiety levels pre- and postheating, and patient comfort.

Findings: Dry heat was 2.7 times more likely than moist heat to result in successful IV insertion on the first attempt, had significantly lower insertion times, and was more comfortable. Heat type had no effect on patient anxiety.

Conclusions: Dry heat application decreases the likelihood of multiple IV insertion attempts and procedure time and is comfortable, safe, and economical to use in an outpatient oncology setting.

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