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New research reveals that sick children do not always have their pain-relief needs met

06 July 2009 Expertsvar

Despite great effort to reduce anxiety, fear and pain, related to health care, children still considered “being in pain” as the worst aspect of their procedure, according to Karin En­skär, associate professor at the School of Health Sciences, Jönköping, Sweden.

Swedish nurses have an excellent knowledge of, and a positive attitude towards pain manage­ment, but in spite of this they do not succeed in relieving children’s pain. This is partly because nurses believe in pharmacological treatment as the only method of relieving pain. Using “non-pharmacological” methods, such as Virtual Reality or music, has proven to be successful and highly valued by those children who have tried it.

Research at the School of Health Sciences, Jönköping shows that nurses in Sweden have a higher level of knowledge and a more positive attitude towards pain management, compared to nurses in England and South Africa. The way nurses manage pain in children is affected by several factors: one of which is that nurses may lack preparedness when confronted with child­ren in pain, which in turn may lead to a feeling of powerlessness and sometimes even distrust on the part of the child. Other factors involved are an inability to assess a child’s level of pain and difficulty co-operating with the child, the parents and/or the physician.

“Non-pharmacological” methods of relieving pain in children are seldom used by English and Swedish nurses. Compared to nurses in South Africa, Swedish nurses relied heavily on phar­macological treatment as the only method pain relief. Research has further shown that children who have a sense of control and participation during painful procedures, experience the situa­tion more positively.

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