In children’s words: an observational study of their experience of pain and its treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Lausanne


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A Master's thesis.
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Master (thesis) (master)
In children’s words: an observational study of their experience of pain and its treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Lausanne
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté de biologie et médecine
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Context: Pain has always played a fundamental role in medicine. Nowadays, number of studies show that children still experience unacceptable levels of pain. Their pain is often underestimated and undertreated. Negative pain experiences can lead to difficulties in future medical care. Improvement in pain management is still to be done in the hospital. We therefore decided to conduct this study in order to influence positively clinical practice, knowing that research exploring children’s experiences is limited and that self-reporting is the most reliable way of assessing pain, even for children.
Study design: A qualitative exploratory study.
Method: Children (N = 22), 5-18 years old, took part in semi-structured interviews about their pain experiences while hospitalized. Data were collected in the hospitalization ward of the HEL. Content and qualitative inductive analysis were used to analyze data.
Results: Four themes were mooted during the interviews: ‘pain definition’, ‘experienced pain’, ‘pain management and relief’ and ‘recommendations’. All the participants were able to elaborate with their own words about pain definition and their experiences. They described well the multidimensionality of pain and reported systematic pain evaluation by medical staff using assessment tools. They also indicated being mostly relieved by pharmacological interventions and by their own strategies to deal with pain, mainly distraction and positioning. Participants reported unsystematic use of non-pharmacological methods that help them cope with pain. They provided several recommendations for hospitalized children and medical staff to improve pain management.
Conclusion: Our study showed that children are capable of expertise when it comes to their pain experience. They explained what they were going through and what they did to decrease their pain. They also said what relieved them the most and identified what medical staff did to take care of them. The study showed that taking their words into account is a reliable method to assess and treat their pain. However, there is still room for improvement. The recommendations that stem from this research are to keep exploring children’s experiences and develop non-pharmacological methods in the HEL. This, in order to improve pain management in clinical practice. Better pain management could positively impact the child’s present (less pain experience during hospitalization) but also the child’s future knowing that pain experiences in childhood impact future medical care.
children, experience, pain, pain assessment, pain management
Create date
07/09/2020 12:34
Last modification date
09/02/2021 6:26
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