• Warnock, Fay


    Affiliate Investigator, BC Children's Hospital
    Assistant Professor, Division of Faculty of Applied Science, Department of Nursing, University of British Columbia

    Degrees / Designations
    B.Sc.N, MN, PhD
    Primary Area of Research
    Brain, Behaviour & Development
    Secondary Area(s) of Research
    604-875-2000 ext. 5301 (C&W) or 604-822-7454 (UBC)
    604-875-3569 (C&W) or 604-822-7266 (UBC)
    Lab Phone
    Mailing Address

    BC Children's Hospital
    Room L408
    4480 Oak Street
    Vancouver, BC V6H 3V4

    Affiliate Websites
    Research Areas
    • Pre and postnatal stressors
    • Infant self-regulation
    • Pain measurement
    • Pain assessment
    • Caregiver-infant interaction
    • Maternal depression
    • Infant and child mental health
    • Systematic observation
    • Ethological and microanalytic approaches
    • Knowledge utilization

    My program of research focuses on developing and validating strategies to study pain and stress reactivity in healthy fullterm infants and those born ill or at-risk (infants exposed to pre and postnatal stressors). It incorporates the use of naturalistic systematic observation and conventional methodologies. The purpose is to comprehensively describe and measure, in fine-grained detail and in real time, microanalytic descriptions of infant responses and to make explicit environmental effects that intensify or modulate those responses. The resultant fine-grained descriptions allow novel and unique insight into the repertoire and qualitative aspects of the behaviour and into how infants normally act and interact (or fail to) with their immediate environments.  In particular, they permit the identification of patterning in the infant’s composite expressions of complex phenomenon (such as pain) and recognition of otherwise unnoticed environmental factors (e.g. ambient sound, caregiving) that influence the infant’s ability to respond to, or to recover from pain – especially important when exposure to stressors are multiple or compounded.

    Current Projects

    Infants perceive their environments through experience, and these experiences shape their development and behaviour.  The healthier and more stable the pre and postnatal environment, the more likely the infant will regulate effectively from survival states to states that reflect optimal neurodevelopment and that support long-term physical and psychosocial well being.  Exposures to multiple pre and postnatal stressors, however, have additive effects that may permanently alter the infant’s nervous system and heighten their sensitivity to subsequent stressors. This is especially important in the context of health care because newborns previously exposed to stressors (infants born at-risk) will likely be exposed to multiple sensory and noxious events as part of their routine care.  Hence, preventing further insult, especially during critical epochs, is crucial, and dependent upon knowledge of potential stressors and the ability to distinguish typical and atypical infant response patterns and to make use of such knowledge within the context of complex care environments.  An essential component of that objective is to foster and strengthen the maternal-infant and professional-infant caregiving relationships.

    I am currently undertaking several microanalytic studies to further newborn pain measurement and pain assessment within the context of infant prenatal exposure to antidepressant drugs, maternal depression and maternal and health professional caregiving.  This research addresses four areas and is supported through a MSFHR Scholar award and several operating grants received from SSHRC, CIHR and HELP:

    • Generating microanalytic descriptions of newborn action and interaction including concurrently occurring contextual and environmental factors

    • Making use of innovative measurement approaches to identify atypical and atypical patterning in the composite indicators of pain and stress reactivity (self regulation)

    • Clarifying the regulative role of maternal caregiving on shaping newborn pain reactivity within the context of maternal depression

    • Clarifying the regulative role of nurse caregiving on shaping newborn pain reactivity within the context of complex health care environments.

    Selected Publications
    Castral TC, Warnock F, Leite AM, Haas VJ, Scochi CG.: The effects of skin-to-skin contact during acute pain in preterm newborns. Eur J Pain. 2008 May;12(4):464-71.

    Warnock FF (2005). Pain Assessment: Neonates, in Schmidt R and Willis B, The Encyclopaedic Reference of Pain (pp. 22-26). Springer-Verlag, In press.

    Warnock FF (2005). Chapter 42: Pain and Comfort. In Ross Kerr and Wong D (ED.), Potter, Canadian Fundamentals of Nursing (3rd ed.) pp. 802-838). Elsevier, In press.

    Warnock FF, Lander J (2004). Foundations of knowledge about neonatal pain.  Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 27, 170-179.

    Warnock FF & Sandrin D (2004).  Comprehensive Description of Newborn Distress related pain behaviour (newborn male circumcision). Pain, 107, 242-255.

    Romyn DM, Allen MN, Boschma G, Duncan SM, Edgecombe N, Jensen LA, Ross-Kerr JC, Marc P, Salsali M, Tourangeau AE, Warnock F (2003). The notion of evidence in evidence-based practice. Journal of Professional Nursing, 19, 184-188.

    Warnock FF (2003). An ethogram on neonatal distress related pain behaviour (newborn male circumcision).  Infant Behaviour and Development, 26, 3, 398-420.

    Warnock FF, Allan M (2003).  Focus on Methodology: Ethological methods for developing nursing knowledge.  Research in Nursing and Health, 26, 74-84.

    Lander J, Warnock F (1999).  Supporting parents of children in day surgery.   Canadian Nurse, 95, 29-33.

    Warnock F, Lander J (1999). Neonatal Pain (Distress) Behavior, Pain Research and Management, 4, 35.

    De Moissac DM, Warnock FF (1996). The evolution of caring within bioethics: Providing relationship and context.  Nursing Ethics: An International Journal for Health Care Professional, 3, 191-201.


    Honours & Awards

    Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar Award – 2004

    Visiting Scholar, University of Sao Pualo, Ribeirao Preto (Brazil) – 2004

    CIHR Postdoctoral Research Fellowship – 2001-2004

    University of Alberta, Faculty of Nursing, L, Zujewskyji Memorial Scholarship – Pediatrics – 1998

    CIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship – 1998-2000

    National Health Research and Development Program Doctoral Research Fellowship – 1998-2000 (declined)

    University of Alberta, FOGS Graduate Student Recruitment and Walter H. John’s Scholarships: 1998-2000

    Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Graduate Training Fellowship – 1996-2000

    Canadian Nurses Foundation and the Hospital for Sick Children Graduate Fellowship – 1996

    Research Group Members