Use of Picture Communication Aids to Assess Pain Location in Pediatric Postoperative Patients

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Children undergoing surgical procedures may have difficulty communicating. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) picture communication may provide a standard communication strategy for postoperative children and facilitate nurse-patient communication. The study purposes were to (1) determine if inconsistency exists between nurse assessments of pain location versus identification of pain location using AAC picture communication aids and (2) determine parent satisfaction with use of AAC picture communication aids. A convenience sample of patients aged 3 to 9 years were recruited in a Midwestern freestanding pediatric hospital's postanesthesia care unit (PACU). The patient's pain location was assessed using an AAC picture communication aid and compared with the PACU nurses' pain assessment. Nurses did not consistently document location of pain, and, when documented, the surgical site was inaccurately identified as the location of pain. Parent satisfaction was measured through completion of a 10-item satisfaction survey. Respondents were satisfied with the use of AAC picture communication aids.

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