Our youngest patients' pain - From disbelief to belief?

Rachel Yaffa Zisk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Though human pain has existed since the dawn of time, formal medical pain relief in the form of anesthesia and analgesia has been available only since the mid-nineteenth century. Even after these measures became available, they were used very selectively for the first 100 years of their existence. The youngest patients, especially, were denied pain relief, probably because they could not complain about their pain as articulately and as effectively as adult patients could. A desperate need existed for health care professionals to recognize and appreciate the fact that their youngest patients could suffer immensely and to adequately address the issue. This article reviews the evolution of knowledge and attitudes regarding young patients' pain and addresses why and how this process occurred. The evolution of knowledge was traced by reviewing the literature found in MEDLINE, CINAHL, and LEXIS-NEXIS searches and through hand searches of articles that were frequently cited. Physiologic, pharmacologic, ethical, and psychologic aspects of young patients' pain are addressed. A unique phenomenon arose from the data reviewed. The process of belief and changes in practice were encouraged not only by advances in science, but also by consumer demand. Advances in the past decade in the management of young patients' pain were profound, but are still not complete. Understanding the evolution surrounding pain recognition in young patients provides a stepping stone that can facilitate further improvements in the management of pain in young patients.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)40-51
Number of pages12
JournalPain Management Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes


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