How well is acute pain in children managed? A snapshot in one English hospital

Twycross, Alison and Collis, Sue (2013) How well is acute pain in children managed? A snapshot in one English hospital. Pain Management Nursing, 14(4), e204-e215. ISSN (print) 1524-9042


This study set out to obtain a picture of pediatric pain management practices in one English hospital. Data were collected on two wards. Nonparticipant observation combined with a chart audit was used to collect data about actual practices. Questionnaires were used to collect information from parents and young people. Observational data showed that practices conformed to current guidelines in some but not all areas. When prescribed, the dosage of analgesic drugs complied with the hospital's guidelines, and drugs were usually administered as prescribed. There was some involvement of parents in decision making but this was usually initiated by them rather than the nurses. Pain assessment tools were not always used nor was a pain history routinely taken. Documentation about pain management was limited and there was little evidence of nonpharmacologic methods of pain relief being used. Parents and young people felt that their pain management was of an acceptable level or very good. This was despite the fact that 58% of children experienced severe pain and 24% moderate pain. The results provide a snapshot of pain management in one English hospital. As in other studies, pain management practices do not adhere to current guidelines in all areas, and children appear to be experiencing moderate to severe pain. Despite this, parents and children indicated that they were happy with the quality of pain management. There is a need to explore this further and to identify strategies that support the implementation of guidelines in practice.

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