Postoperative pain assessment in children is crucial for proper nursing care. However, research on the agreement of these assessments with a patient's self-reported pain level is lacking. The aim was to investigate the agreement between patients' subjective postoperative pain and corresponding observers' pain assessments.
In children who underwent orthopedic limb surgery, we investigated the agreement between their reported pain levels and observers' pain assessments using the Numeric Pain Rating Scale (NPRS) and the Faces Pain Scale-Revised (FPS-R) on postoperative day 1. The parents (specifically the mother) and clinicians (a doctor and a nurse in the field of pediatric orthopedics) participated as observers. Reliabilities using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) and correlations using Spearman's coefficients (rs) were calculated.
The patients' pain intensities (2.1± 2.1 [NPRS] and 2.0 ± 1.9 [FPS-R]) were overestimated by parents (2.5 ± 2.0 [NPRS], p = .022), but underestimated by clinicians (1.5 ± 1.2 [NPRS], p < .001, and 1.5 ± 1.2 [FPS-R], p = .006). The overall reliabilities between parents and patients were good (ICCs > 0.75 for both NPRS and FPS-R), and the correlations between them were even strong in some circumstances, such as when the patient was a girl, the diagnostic type was a disease, or the lower extremity was operated (rss > 0.7). However, the agreements between clinicians and patients were only moderate.
The subjective pediatric postoperative pain intensities had different agreements according to the observers. The parents' assessments should be considered for the accurate assessments, but their tendency to overestimate their children's pain should also be taken into account.