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Scand J Caring Sci. 2010 Mar;24(1):49-55. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6712.2008.00683.x. Epub 2010 Jan 11.

Nurses' attitudes and perceptions of pain assessment in neonatal intensive care.

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Institute of Health Sciences, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland.



Pain assessment of premature infants continue to be ineffective. The problem may be partly because of misconceptions or lack of knowledge in the assessment of pain in children.


This paper reports a study to describe nurses' attitudes towards and perceptions of pain assessment in neonatal intensive care and the demographic factors related to these attitudes and perceptions of pain.


The participants consisted of 257 Finnish nurses who were recruited from all five of the country's university hospitals caring for the premature infants receiving intensive care or monitoring. We collected data by using a Likert-type questionnaire in spring 2006. The response rate was 71% from the represented population.


Almost all (97%) of the nurses agreed that pain assessment in premature infants is important. However, over half (60%) of the respondents agreed that they could assess the premature infants pain reliably without pain scores. The respondents' perceptions of the premature infants' ability to sense and express pain indicated rather good knowledge of the topic. Nevertheless, one-fourth of the participants was unaware that a premature infant could be more sensitive in sensing pain than a full term counterpart. Education, work experience and the working unit were the demographic factors that were significantly related to the respondents' attitudes and perceptions.


On average nurses' attitudes were positive towards the pain assessment in neonatal intensive care. However, there were some gaps in the knowledge concerning the respondents' perceptions of the items, which is a challenge to nursing and nursing education.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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