Pediatric nurses' thinking in response to vignettes on administering analgesics

Authors

  • Catherine Van Hulle Vincent,

    Corresponding author
    1. College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
    • Department of Women, Children, and Family Health Science, College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago, 845 South Damen Avenue, Room 854, Chicago, IL 60612-7350.
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    • Assistant Professor.

  • Erica J. Gaddy

    1. College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
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    • Research Assistant.


  • Thank you to the nurses who participated in the study and to Dr. Agatha Gallo and Dr. Diana Wilkie for their review of this manuscript.

Abstract

Pediatric nurses are not administering available and recommended analgesics to hospitalized children after surgery. This descriptive study was conducted to examine 30 pediatric nurses' thinking—in response to case study vignettes—about pain assessment and morphine administration for children experiencing postoperative pain. Nurses considered numerous factors when assessing and managing children's pain, including pain level, vital signs, and facial expression. Nurses frequently relied, however, on behavioral and physiological manifestations, as opposed to self-report, when choosing whether to administer morphine. Nurses demonstrated misconceptions about pharmacokinetics and unwarranted concerns about the adverse effects of morphine. These findings partly explain why children continue to report high levels of pain after surgery and why nurses may not administer adequate analgesics to relieve children's pain. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 32:530–539, 2009

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