Get access

Chinese nurses’ use of non-pharmacological methods in children's postoperative pain relief


  • Hong-Gu He MSc MD,

  • Tarja Pölkki PhD RN,

  • Katri Vehviläinen-Julkunen PhD RN,

  • Anna-Maija Pietilä PhD RN

Hong-Gu He,
Department of Nursing Science,
University of Kuopio,
PO Box 1627,
FIN-70211 Kuopio,


Aim.  This paper reports a study describing Chinese nurses’ use of non-pharmacological methods for relieving 6- to 12-year-old children's postoperative pain and factors related to this.

Background.  Non-pharmacological methods are stated to be effective in relieving children's postoperative pain when used independently or in conjunction with medication. However, little is known about the use of these methods by Chinese nurses.

Methods.  A questionnaire survey was carried out in 2002 with a convenience sample of 187 nurses working at 12 surgical wards in five hospitals of Fujian Province, China. A Likert-type instrument was used, and the average response rate was 98%. Descriptive statistics and content analysis were used to analyse the data.

Results.  The most commonly used non-pharmacological methods were giving preparatory information, comforting/reassurance, creating a comfortable environment, distraction, and positioning. Positive reinforcement and helping with daily activities were used less often, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation was not used at all. Many nurse background factors were statistically significantly related to their use of pain alleviation methods. Furthermore, many factors limited their use of non-pharmacological methods, the most common being that there were too few nurses for the work that had to be done, followed by nurses’ lack of knowledge about pain management.

Conclusions.  While Chinese nurses used versatile non-pharmacological methods in school-aged children's postoperative pain relief, there remains a need for more education about pain management and for more frequent use of these methods in clinical care.