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Differences in Pediatric Pain Management by Unit Types

Journal title
Journal of nursing scholarship : an official publication of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing
Publication year
O'Neal, K.; Olds, D.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine differences in pediatric pain management by unit type in hospitals across the United States. The aims were to (a) compare unit-type rates of assessment, intervention, and reassessment (AIR), and (b) describe differences in assessment tools and intervention use by unit type. DESIGN: The study used a cross-sectional design. A secondary analysis of 2013 data from the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI(R)) pain AIR cycle indicator was conducted. The sample included 984 pediatric units in 390 hospitals. METHODS: Data were gathered via retrospective chart review on the pain assessment tool used, presence of pain, interventions, and reassessment. Descriptive statistics and the Kruskal-Wallis one-way analysis of variance test were conducted. Post-hoc analyses included the Wilcoxon-rank sum test with Bonferroni correction. FINDINGS: Across all units the mean unit-level percentage of patients assessed for pain was 99.6%. Of those patients assessed, surgical units had the highest average unit-level percentage of patients with pain, while Level 4 neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) had the lowest. The most commonly used assessment tool among all units was the Faces, Legs, Activity, Crying, and Consolability (FLACC) Scale. The Neonatal Pain, Agitation, and Sedation Scale (N-PASS) and Neonatal Infant Pain Scale (NIPS) specifically developed for infants were more commonly used across NICU unit types. The mean unit-level percentage of patients with pain receiving an intervention was 89.4%, and reassessment was 83.6%. Overall, pharmacologic methods were the most common pain intervention, while music was the least common. CONCLUSIONS: Assessments were performed routinely, yet interventions and reassessments were not. Pain AIR cycle completion varied by unit type. Pain was also widely present across many unit types, and pharmacologic methods were most frequently used. CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Frontline nurses are instrumental to pain management and have the ability to improve patient care and outcomes by effectively managing pain. A comprehensive understanding of it provides valuable insight into improving our practice to produce the best outcomes for pediatric patients.

Research abstracts