The Experience of Pain and Pain Tool Preferences of Hospitalized Youth.

Author ORCiD Identifier

Chen-Lim: 0000-0002-7922-7157

Publication Title

Pain Management Nursing : Official Journal of the American Society of Pain Management Nurses

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PubMed ID



BACKGROUND: An accurate holistic pediatric pain assessment is necessary for quality pain management. Evidence continues to be published indicating inadequacies in pediatric pain management. It is important for clinicians to consider the pain assessment process while caring for youth.

AIM: The purpose of this study was to understand the pain experience through focused interviews and to explore how youth use, interpret and understand self-report pain assessment tools including their tool preferences.

DESIGN: A qualitative descriptive study using a research developed semi-structured interview guide was conducted with 40 hospitalized youth, 10-17 years (M: 13yr; S.D. 2.4); 21 (52.5%) female on a medical inpatient unit. Interview questions focused on: current pain experience; pain related symptoms; evaluation of pain treatment and preferences for select pain assessment tools: 0-10 Numeric Rating Scale, The Oucher, Faces Pain Scale-Revised, and Adolescent Pediatric Pain Tool (APPT).

SETTING: Large tertiary and quaternary care pediatric hospital located in northeastern United States.

PARTICIPANTS/SUBJECTS: Hospitalized youth, 10-17 years of age.

RESULTS: Analysis of transcribed interviews yielded 3 themes: My Pain Now, Pain Treatment Expectations, and Telling Healthcare Providers about My Pain. Additionally, pain tools preference, assessment frequency, and discussion of how behavior, activity level, and pain expression was different for each youth. APPT was the preferred pain assessment tool. Descriptive words such as sharp, throbbing, and aching were identified most often. Youth identified that activity and pain level often do not match.

CONCLUSIONS: Because pain is multi-dimensional, assessing each dimension (quality, location, intensity, and meaning) is key to thorough assessment. Results provide insight into youth preferences influencing clinical practice such as offering options for interventions and having a voice in the pain management process. All nurses caring for children should discuss available pain tools preferably before the child is in pain and assure the child knows how to use the tool.


Adolescent, Child, Female, Hospitalization, Humans, Interviews as Topic, Male, Pain, Pain Management, Pain Measurement, Qualitative Research



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