Pain in Pediatric Inpatients: Prevalence, Characteristics, and Management

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Abstract

The aim of the present study was to identify the prevalence, characteristics, and management of pediatric pain in public hospitals of Brazil according to reports of patients, family caregivers, and health professionals. A cross-sectional study based on interviews, focusing on pain in pediatric inpatients from 0 to 18 years of age in the prior 24 hr. The clinical sample was composed of 397 cases, including interviews with 76 patients, 293 family caregivers, 62 physicians (who answered the interview relating to 264 cases), and 81 nurses (who responded in reference to 308 cases). The results showed that the prevalence of pain was 47% from the patients' perception, 37% according to the family caregivers, 20% reported by the physicians, and 19% the nurses. Pediatric pain was characterized by a single episode of acute pain, of short duration, associated with procedures, with mild to severe intensity. Approximately a quarter of the patients did not receive any pain intervention, according to the perceptions of all participants (19% of patients, 20% of family caregivers, 38% of physicians, and 20% of nurses). The prevalence of reports of pain was high, although the epidemiological pain profile indicated that this could have been prevented in most cases. Nevertheless, it seems that the fact that children had pain and complained about it and that the health professionals identified it was insufficient to guarantee the provision of pain management. The development of institutional protocols and governmental policies could improve pediatric pain care in Brazil and other low- to medium-income countries.

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