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J Child Health Care. 2015 Dec;19(4):513-23. doi: 10.1177/1367493514527022. Epub 2014 Apr 11.

Surgeons' aims and pain assessment strategies when managing paediatric post-operative pain: A qualitative study.

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London South Bank University, United Kingdom
Great Ormond Street Hospital, United Kingdom.
IWK Health Centre, Canada; Dalhousie University, Canada.


Children experience moderate to severe pain post-operatively. Nurses have been found to have a variety of aims in this context. Surgeons' aims when managing post-operative pain have not been explored. This qualitative study set out to explore paediatric surgeons' aims when managing post-operative pain in one paediatric hospital in Canada. Consultant surgeons (n = 8) across various specialities took part in semi-structured interviews. Surgeons' overarching aim was to keep the child comfortable. Various definitions of comfortable were given, relating to the child's experience of pain itself and their ability to undertake activities of daily living. Children's behavioural pain cues seem to be a primary consideration when making treatment decisions. Parents' views regarding their child's pain were also seen as important, suggesting children may not be seen as competent to make decisions on their own behalf. The need to maintain a realistic approach was emphasised and pain management described as a balancing act. Surgeons may draw on both tacit and explicit knowledge when assessing children's pain. There appears to be an expectation among surgeons that some pain is to be expected post-operatively and that the diagnostic value of pain may, in some cases, supersede concerns for the child's pain experience.


Paediatric; pain; post-operative care; surgeons

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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