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Assessment of Pain Varies for Children in Canadian Hospitals

Thirty-three percent of pediatric patients have moderate or severe pain intensity

THURSDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Most pediatric patients in Canadian hospitals undergo pain assessments, but these are characterized by variability in frequency and nature, according to a study published in the September issue of The Journal of Pain.

Bonnie J. Stevens, R.N., Ph.D., from the Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto, and colleagues examined the nature and frequency of acute pain assessment in 32 inpatient units in eight Canadian pediatric hospitals. Pain assessment practices and pain intensity scores recorded during a 24-hour period were obtained from 3,822 0- to 18-year-old children.

The researchers found that, for 68.4 percent of the children, pain assessment was recorded at least once within the 24-hour period: 28.7 percent with a pain measure alone, 26.3 percent with pain narratives alone, and 13.4 percent with a measure and a narrative. Thirty-three percent of the children had moderate (4 to 6/10) or severe (7 to 10/10) pain intensity, but the mean standardized pain intensity score was 2.6/10. A pain assessment score was more likely to be recorded for children who were older, ventilated, or hospitalized in surgical units.

"Pain assessment was documented in over two-thirds of hospitalized children in a 24-hour period within this multisite study, representing an improvement over previous reports from single centers," the authors write. "Given the limitations in interpretability of the varied pain assessment methods used as well as the variability accounted for by child and organizational factors, pain assessment practices and outcomes in hospitalized children warrant further exploration."

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

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