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Preterm Enhanced Automated Capture of Comfort Knowledge (PEACOCK)

  • Research type

    Research Study

  • Full title

    Preterm Enhanced Automated detection and assessment of pain and comfort levels in preterm babies using video and computerised deep learning (Peacock study)



  • Contact name

    Janet Berrington

  • Contact email

  • Sponsor organisation

    The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Newcastle Joint Research Office

  • ISRCTN Number


  • Duration of Study in the UK

    1 years, 0 months, 31 days

  • Research summary

    Preterm infants may experience significant pain and discomfort as a necessary part of providing high quality medical care. We aim to conduct an observational pilot study exploring the use of computer machine learning methods to determine the comfort state of preterm infants in a hospital, in particular whether they may be experiencing pain/discomfort and resting/comfort states. The study will investigate which behavioural and physiological indicators are most informative of infant’s state. We will record video/audio footage of the baby's face and movements and relate these to any routine procedures the baby has such as blood tests, or comparing differences between when they are resting in an incubator compared to having skin to skin comfort care with their parents.

    Traditionally, neonatal pain is assessed intermittently by bedside nurses using their experience, supplemented with recording of standardised 'pain scales' but these methods have high inter-observer variability. More accurate and valid determination of infant pain or discomfort using automated techniques may improve the baby's overall experience, and improve the rigor with which pain is determined, and therefore treated.

    Video/audio footage will be analysed by a computer using so-called 'machine learning models' which can analyse large volumes of data to determine how for example small movements of the limbs, or subtle changes in facial expressions may relate to pain or discomfort.

    There are no changes to the patient journey and no risks or discomfort to the baby. All normal medical and nursing procedures will be carried in the normal way. We will use a camera/microphone mounted on a tripod, or placed on top of an incubator to record limb and facial movements and sound, and also collect data from standard bedside monitoring. The study will be conducted on Ward 35, neonatal intensive care Unit, Royal Victoria Infirmary Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust.

  • REC name

    Yorkshire & The Humber - Leeds East Research Ethics Committee

  • REC reference


  • Date of REC Opinion

    10 Aug 2022

  • REC opinion

    Favourable Opinion

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