Nurses' report of in-hospital pediatric pain assessment: Examining challenges and perspectives

Rachel Yaffa Zisk-Rony*, Jodi Lev, Hagit Haviv

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    30 Scopus citations


    Pain is a symptom pediatric nurses commonly encounter in the hospital setting. Untreated pain can lead to adverse physiologic and psychological effects. This study examines in-hospital pain assessment methods nurses report using and assesses challenges, difficulties, and barriers nurses report to assessing pain in hospitalized children. Cross-sectional study of 82 pediatric nurses from all pediatric departments of a tertiary hospital in Israel. A self-report questionnaire was developed to examine how nurses assess children's in-hospital pain and barriers to in-hospital pain assessment. Nearly all nurses (90%) reported having enough knowledge to assess children's pain in the hospital, relying on child's self-report (86%) and being familiar with commonly used validated pain scales (90%). However, a majority (75%) reported not using pain scales recently and only half (58%) reported using an alternative method involving the child. Most nurses (86%) reported relying on their own overall impression of the child's pain and only a third (34%) reported involving the parents in their pain assessments. Nurses included comments stressing the importance of pain assessments and their frustration with the current validated measures available. This study adds to a growing body of literature demonstrating a gap between recommended pediatric pain assessment guidelines and reported practice, with nurses showing a resistance to relying on single-item or unidimensional measures to assess and evaluate the rich and complex pain experience. A multidimensional approach involving child self-report, parent report, and nurses' own overall impression based on clinical assessment skills of pain is discussed.

    Original languageAmerican English
    Pages (from-to)112-120
    Number of pages9
    JournalPain Management Nursing
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 1 Apr 2015

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2015 American Society for Pain Management Nursing.


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