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Screening and assessment of chronic pain among children with cerebral palsy: a process evaluation of a pain toolbox

Journal title
Disability and rehabilitation
Publication year
Orava, T.; Provvidenza, C.; Townley, A.; Kingsnorth, S.

PURPOSE: Though high numbers of children with cerebral palsy experience chronic pain, it remains under-recognized. This paper describes an evaluation of implementation supports and adoption of the Chronic Pain Assessment Toolbox for Children with Disabilities (the Toolbox) to enhance pain screening and assessment practices within a pediatric rehabilitation and complex continuing care hospital. METHODS: A multicomponent knowledge translation strategy facilitated Toolbox adoption, inclusive of a clinical practice guideline, cerebral palsy practice points and assessment tools. Across the hospital, seven ambulatory care clinics with cerebral palsy caseloads participated in a staggered roll-out (Group 1: exclusive CP caseloads, March-December; Group 2: mixed diagnostic caseloads, August-December). Evaluation measures included client electronic medical record audit, document review and healthcare provider survey and interviews. RESULTS: A significant change in documentation of pain screening and assessment practice from pre-Toolbox (<2%) to post-Toolbox adoption (53%) was found. Uptake in Group 2 clinics lagged behind Group 1. Opportunities to use the Toolbox consistently (based on diagnostic caseload) and frequently (based on client appointments) were noted among contextual factors identified. Overall, the Toolbox was positively received and clinically useful. CONCLUSION: Findings affirm that the Toolbox, in conjunction with the application of integrated knowledge translation principles and an established knowledge translation framework, has potential to be a useful resource to enrich and standardize chronic pain screening and assessment practices among children with cerebral palsy. Implications for Rehabilitation It is important to engage healthcare providers in the conceptualization, development, implementation and evaluation of a knowledge-to-action best practice product. The Chronic Pain Toolbox for Children with Disabilities provides rehabilitation staff with guidance on pain screening and assessment best practice and offers a range of validated tools that can be incorporated in ambulatory clinic settings to meet varied client needs. Considering unique clinical contexts (i.e., opportunities for use, provider engagement, staffing absences/turnover) is required to optimize and sustain chronic pain screening and assessment practices in rehabilitation outpatient settings.

Research abstracts