Healthcare professionals' perceptions of pain in infants at risk for neurological impairment Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • BACKGROUND: To determine whether healthcare professionals perceive the pain of infants differently due to their understanding of that infant's level of risk for neurological impairment. METHOD: Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU's) at two tertiary pediatric centers. Ninety-five healthcare professionals who practice in the NICU (50 nurses, 19 physicians, 17 respiratory therapists, 9 other) participated. They rated the pain (0-10 scale and 0-6 Faces Pain Scale), distress (0-10), effectiveness of cuddling to relieve pain (0-10) and time to calm without intervention (seconds) for nine video clips of neonates receiving a heel stick. Prior to each rating, they were provided with descriptions that suggested the infant had mild, moderate or severe risk for neurological impairment. Ratings were examined as a function of the level of risk described. RESULTS: Professionals' ratings of pain, distress, and time to calm did not vary significantly with level of risk, but ratings of the effectiveness of cuddling were significantly lower as risk increased [F (2,93) = 4.4, p = .02]. No differences in ratings were found due to participants' age, gender or site of study. Physicians' ratings were significantly lower than nurses' across ratings. CONCLUSION: Professionals provided with visual information regarding an infants' pain during a procedure did not display the belief that infants' level of risk for neurological impairment affected their pain experience. Professionals' estimates of the effectiveness of a nonpharmacological intervention did differ due to level of risk.

authors

  • Breau, Lynn M
  • McGrath, Patrick J
  • Stevens, Bonnie
  • Beyene, Joseph
  • Camfield, Carol S
  • Finley, G Allen
  • Franck, Linda
  • Howlett, Alexandra
  • O'Brien, Karel
  • Ohlsson, Arne

publication date

  • December 2004

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