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Pain in Children with Developmental Disabilities: Development and Preliminary Effectiveness of a Pain Training Workshop for Respite Workers

Genik Lara M. MA; McMurtry, C. Meghan PhD; Breau, Lynn M. PhD; Lewis, Stephen P. PhD; Freedman-Kalchman, Tamlyn BAS
The Clinical Journal of Pain: Post Acceptance: September 01, 2017
doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000554
Original Article: PDF Only


Pain in children with intellectual disabilities (ID) is common and complex, yet there is no standard pain training for their secondary caregivers.


Determine perceived pain training needs/preferences of children’s respite staff (Phase One) and, use this information combined with extant research and guidelines to develop and pilot a training (Phase Two).


In Phase One, 22 participants responded to questionnaires and engaged in individual interviews/focus groups about their experiences with pain in children with ID, and perceived training needs/preferences. In Phase Two, 50 participants completed knowledge measures and rated the feasibility of, and their own confidence and skill in, pain assessment and management for children with ID immediately before and after completing a pain training. They also completed a training evaluation.


Participants viewed a pain training as beneficial. Their ideal training involved a half-day, multifaceted in person program with a relatively small group of trainees incorporating a variety of learning activities, and an emphasis on active learning. Phase Two results suggested that completion of the 3–3.5 hour pain training significantly increased respite workers’ pain-related knowledge (large effect sizes: r=0.81-0.88), as well as their ratings of the feasibility of, and their own confidence and skill in, pain assessment and management in children with ID (moderate to large effect sizes: r=0.41-0.70). The training was rated favorably.


Training can positively impact respite workers’ knowledge and perceptions about pain assessment and management. As such, they may be better equipped to care for children with ID in this area.

This research was funded by a faculty start up grant at the University of Guelph and was conducted as Lara Genik’s Master’s Thesis research project within the Pediatric Pain, Health, and Communication (PPHC) Lab under the supervision of Dr. C. Meghan McMurtry. Lara is a current trainee within the Pain in Child Health Strategic Training Program and held an Ontario Graduate Scholarship while completing her Master’s degree. Findings from this research have been presented at the Ontario Association for Developmental Disabilities Research Special Interest Group Annual Research Day (April 2016), and the 11th International Symposium for Pediatric Pain (July 2017).

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Lara Genik, MA, Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1 (e-mail:

Received January 28, 2017

Accepted August 8, 2017

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