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Paediatr Child Health. 2010 May;15(5):289-93.

Mothers' beliefs about analgesia during childhood immunization.

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Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario.



Immunization injections are the most common painful medical procedures experienced during childhood, yet there is a discrepancy between recommendations for the effective use of topical anesthetics to reduce vaccine injection pain and actual practice.


To improve our understanding of mothers' experiences and practices regarding their children's routine immunizations.


Adopting an interpretive, naturalistic paradigm, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 mothers to examine their perceptions and experiences of their children's immunization pain and pain management.


The findings demonstrated three main themes: attitudes toward immunization pain, immunization pain management and physicians as sources of information. Participants described feeling distressed while their children were being immunized, but most managed these difficulties by focusing on the benefits of immunization and by minimizing or justifying the pain. All of the participants used non-pharmacological techniques to manage immunization injection pain. Few mothers were aware of the availability of topical anesthetics. When participants did use pharmacological analgesic approaches, oral analgesics were most likely to be used for prophylaxis and treatment of fever, and participants were unaware of evidence-based approaches to managing pain. Participants viewed their physicians as trusted sources of information, and the majority said that they would likely use a topical anesthetic in the future if recommended or approved by their physician.


The present findings provide direction for future knowledge translation activities to enhance the knowledge of mothers and clinicians regarding pain during immunization injections and its effective management.


Child; Immunization; Infant; Pain management; Qualitative research; Topical anesthetics

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