Nurses’ aims when managing pediatric postoperative pain: Is what they say the same as what they do?


  • Acknowledgments

    The researchers would like to thank the children and their parents who took part in this study, as well as the nurses and other staff on the unit for their help in undertaking this project. The first author undertook this research while on an international research sabbatical funded by the Faculty of Health and Social Care Sciences, Kingston University and St George's University of London.

  • Disclosure: The authors report no actual or potential conflicts of interest.



The purpose of this study was to explore nurses’ aims when managing postoperative pain and whether reported aims reflect actual practices.

Design and Methods

Participant observation was used to collect data regarding nurses’ (n = 17) pain management practices. Nurses (n = 19) were asked: When managing postoperative pain, what is your overall aim?


Around half the participants (n = 10) aimed for patients to be comfortable while others aimed for a pain score of 2–3 (n = 7), or below 5 (n = 2). Observed practices matched aims for just more than half the participants (n = 9).

Practice Implications

There is evidence of individual variation in practices. This may impact on the care provided.