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Keywords:

  • children;
  • paediatric pain;
  • parents;
  • postoperative pain

Aims and objectives

To explore children's and parents' perceptions about the quality of postoperative pain management.

Background

Children continue to experience moderate to severe pain postoperatively. Unrelieved pain has short- and long-term undesirable consequences. Thus, it is important to ensure pain is managed effectively. Little research has explored children's and parents' perceptions of pain management.

Design

Exploratory study.

Methods

Children (n = 8) were interviewed about their perceptions of pain care using the draw-and-write technique or a semi-structured format and asked to rate the worst pain experienced postoperatively on a numerical scale. Parents (n = 10) were asked to complete the Information About Pain questionnaire. Data were collected in 2011.

Results

Most children experienced moderate to severe pain postoperatively. Children reported being asked about their pain, receiving pain medication and using nonpharmacological methods of pain relief. A lack of preoperative preparation was evident for some children. Most parents indicated they had received information on their child's pain management. Generally, participants were satisfied with care.

Conclusion

Participants appeared satisfied with the care provided despite experiencing moderate to severe pain. This may be attributable to beliefs that nurses would do everything they could to relieve pain and that some pain is to be expected postsurgery.

Relevance to clinical practice

Children are still experiencing moderate to severe pain postoperatively. Given the possible short- and long-term consequences of unrelieved pain, this is of concern. Knowledge translation models may support the use of evidence in practice, and setting a pain goal with parents and children may help improve care.