The purpose of this study was to provide a baseline description of the prevalence of pain and pain management strategies in a pediatric hospital and to compare the prevalence of pain in this hospital to that in published reports in the literature.
Two hundred thirty-seven children ranging in age from 10 days to 17 years and 223 parents participated in an 8-hour survey on 5 inpatient units. Information about pain intensity and pain affect was collected from the children older than 6 years of age and from parents of those who were younger at 4 2-hour intervals. Information about procedural pain was collected from children, parents, and health care professionals over this 8-hour period. The type and amount of analgesia were also noted.
More than 20% of the children had clinically significant pain at each of the 2-hour intervals, and 7 had pain scores of 5/10 or greater for the majority of the study day. At least 50% of the children were found to be pain-free during the 4 intervals, and there was a high level of agreement between parents and children's pain-intensity ratings. One hundred fifty-seven children had medication ordered and 80 children had no analgesia ordered. There was no significant correlation between characteristics of the patients and amounts or types of medication given. No analgesia was administered via intramuscular or subcutaneous injection.
Although these results are encouraging in that a significant portion of the children were pain-free during the study day, the number of children who had clinically significant pain was too high. The results of this study compare with others in that a significant number of children were inadequately treated for pain. Clinical implications are discussed.