Stereotyping and nurses' recommendations for treating pain in hospitalized children


  • The authors acknowledge John Saroyan, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatric Pain and Anesthesiology, Columbia University Medical Center, NY, for reviewing clinical accuracy of vignettes.


The purpose of this study was to examine whether nurses' recommendations for managing children's pain were influenced by stereotypes based on children's personal attributes. Three vignettes, in which hospitalized children's sex, race, and attractiveness were experimentally manipulated, were mailed to a national random sample of 700 pediatric nurses; 334 nurses responded. Responses to vignette questions indicated little evidence of stereotyping. Nurses perceived similar levels of pain and recommended similar pain treatments, regardless of sex, race, and attractiveness. Nurses, on average, perceived children's pain at levels consistent with the children's self-reports and recommended assertive analgesic and non-pharmacologic pain management strategies. The results appear consistent with prevailing views on providing adequate pain treatment for children. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 30:655–666, 2007