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Making pain assessment more accessible to children and parents: can greater involvement improve the quality of care?

Publication year
Franck, L. S.; Allen, A.; Oulton, K.

OBJECTIVES: To determine whether nursing and parental pain assessment documentation and analgesia administration increased with the use of a temporary tattoo of a pain intensity scale (TTPS) compared with a paper version of the pain scale (PPS). To document any adverse skin reactions from the use of the TTPS and to assess the feasibility and acceptability of the PPS and TTPS for use as postoperative pain assessment tools in the home and clinical setting. METHODS: Two pilot randomized controlled trials were conducted to test the TTPS intervention and the PPS control condition in children aged 6 to 12 years, after surgery. Trial 1 involved children admitted to hospital for planned inpatient surgery (n=86). Trial 2 involved children discharged home following day case surgery (n=25). RESULTS: The TTPS was well accepted and there were no adverse effects. Our hypothesis that the TTPS would increase documentation of pain assessment or analgesic administration was not supported. However, a number of confounding factors may explain the findings. Children in both trials indicated greater overall satisfaction with the TTPS and responses from both parents and children suggested some aspects of the quality of the pain management experience were enhanced with use of the TTPS in both trials. DISCUSSION: The TTPS is a new method to engage children in pain assessment, which may have positive effects on the quality of postoperative pain assessment and management in hospital and home settings. Larger trials are needed to determine the effectiveness of the TTPS across all pediatric settings and for children with nonsurgical and also surgical pain. The findings from these pilot trials provide useful information for design and power estimation for further research in inpatient and home settings.

Research abstracts