Impact of an Offline Pain Management Protocol on Prehospital Provider Self-Efficacy: A Randomized Trial

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Abstract

Background

Pain in children is inadequately treated in the prehospital setting despite the reported recognition by prehospital providers (PHPs) of pain treatment as an important part of patient care. The impact of pediatric pain management protocol (PPP) implementation on PHP self-efficacy (SE), a measure congruent with performance, is unknown.

Objective

The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of PPP implementation and pain management education on PHP SE.

Methods

This was a prospective study evaluating the change in PHP SE after a PPP was implemented. Prehospital providers were randomized to 3 groups: protocol introduction alone, protocol introduction with education, and protocol introduction with education and a 3-month interim review. Prehospital provider SE was assessed for pain management given 3 age-based scenarios. Self-efficacy was measured with a tool that uses a ranked ordinal scale ranging from “certain I cannot do it” (0) to “completely certain I can do it” (100) for 10 pain management actions: pain assessment (3), medication administration (4), dosing (1), and reassessment (2). An averaged composite score (0-100) was calculated for each of the 3 age groups (adult, child, toddler). Paired-sample t tests compared post-PPP and 13-month scores to pre-PPP scores.

Results

Of 264 PHPs who completed initial surveys, 142 PHPs completed 13-month surveys. Ninety-three (65%) received education with protocol review, and 49 (35%) had protocol review only. Self-efficacy scores increased over the study period, most notably for pain assessment. This increase persisted at 13 months for child (6.6 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 1.4–11.8]) and toddler pain assessment (22.3 [95% CI, 16.4–28.3]). Composite SE scores increased immediately for all age groups (adult, 3.1 [95% CI, 1.3–4.9]; child, 6.1 [95% CI, 3.8–8.5]; toddler, 12.0 [95% CI, 9.5–14.5]) and persisted at 13 months for the toddler group alone (7.0 [95% CI, 4.3–9.7]). There was no difference between groups who received protocol review alone compared with those with education or education plus a 3-month interim review.

Conclusions

After a pain management protocol was introduced, SE scores among PHPs increased immediately and remained elevated for some individual actions involved in pain management, most notably pain assessment. Prehospital provider pain assessment SE scores declined 13 months after protocol introduction for adults, but remained elevated compared with baseline for the pediatric age groups.

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