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Can J Infect Dis Med Microbiol. 2011 Summer;22(2):43-8.

Practices and perceptions regarding pain and pain management during routine childhood immunizations: Findings from a focus-group study with nurses working at Toronto Public Health, Ontario.

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Graduate Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto, Toronto;



Despite the availability of a variety of evidence-based interventions, it has previously been reported that the majority of infants and children undergo vaccine injections without the benefit of analgesia. Nurses in public health administer a substantial number of injections; however, their attitudes and practices surrounding acute pain during vaccine injections have not been previously explored.


A focus-group interview was conducted in Toronto, Ontario, with 10 nurses who immunize children. Participants reported their perceptions and practices with regard to vaccine injection pain and pain management.


THREE KEY THEMES EMERGED: environmental and process factors, perceptions regarding the effectiveness of different analgesic interventions, and perceptions regarding pain and fear. Participants reported a lack of control over their environment, resulting in fear and discomfort for children. They recommended increased support from external partners such as school teachers and administrators. Participants reported that pharmacological interventions, such as topical local anesthetics, were not used; however, psychological and physical interventions were commonly used. Nurses questioned the effectiveness of topical anesthetics, and indicated that more education was required regarding effective analgesic interventions. Needle pain was reported to be the most prominent concern for children undergoing vaccine injections, and children were described as being fearful.


Nurses reported vaccination setting, analgesic effectiveness and relative importance given to pain as important factors for pain and pain management during vaccine injections. Future studies should explore whether additional perspectives are present in vaccinators in other geographical regions. The effectiveness of educational resources and pain management programs aimed at improving current practices should be investigated.


Immunization; Infants/children nurses; Pain management

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