It has been proposed that a systematic pain assessment increases the awareness of the need to treat and prevent pain, and most international and national neonatal pain guidelines state that pain assessment should be performed in a systematic way. National surveys show a wide variation in compliance to these guidelines.
A survey to all Swedish neonatal units was performed in 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2008, concerning the use of, and need for, pain assessment tools.
The number of units that tried to assess pain increased from 64% in 1993 to 83% in 2008. Forty-four per cent of these used a structured method in 2003, compared to three per cent in 1998. The most common pain indicator was facial actions.
The proportion of neonatal units that reported the use of a structured pain assessment tool has increased significantly from 1993 to 2008. There is a need for better evidence for the relation between the implementation of pain guidelines and the actual performance of pain assessment.
Erratum In: Acta Paediatr. 2011 May;100(5):789Tibboel, D [removed]; van den Anker, J [removed]
To investigate registered nurses' (RNs') and physicians' knowledge, attitudes, and experiences regarding assessing and managing pain in infants at seven level III neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) in Sweden.
Descriptive and explorative study using an online questionnaire.
A researcher-developed online questionnaire with 34 items about knowledge, attitudes, and experiences regarding pain assessment and management was emailed to 306 RNs and 79 physicians working at seven neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) in Sweden.
Most NICUs had pain assessment guidelines, but there was a discrepancy regarding interprofessional discussions of pain assessments. A total of seven different pain assessment instruments were reported from the included NICUs and RNs were reportedly those who usually performed the pain assessments. Most respondents expressed a positive attitude toward pain assessment but recognized a lack of intervention after the assessment. Forty-six percent (n = 11) of the physicians said they had sufficient knowledge of assessing pain using pain assessment instruments, versus 75% (n = 110) of the RNs. Difficulties assessing pain in certain populations of infants, such as the most premature infants and infants receiving sedative medicines, were recognized.
RNs in this study reported that their pain assessments did not lead to appropriate pain management interventions. They were thus discouraged from further pain assessments or advocating for ethical pain management. An interprofessional team effort is needed to effectively assess and manage pain in neonates.
The use of measurement scales to assess pain in neonates is considered a prerequisite for effective management of pain, but these scales are still underutilised in clinical practice.
The aim of this study was to describe and compare pain assessment practices including the use of pain measurement scales in Norwegian and Swedish neonatal care units.
A unit survey investigating practices regarding pain assessment and the use of pain measurement scales was sent to all neonatal units in Sweden and Norway (n = 55). All Norwegian and 92% of Swedish units responded.
A majority of the participating units (86.5%) assessed pain. Swedish units assessed and documented pain and used pain measurement scales more frequently than Norwegian units. The most frequently used scales were different versions of Astrid Lindgren's Pain Scale (ALPS) in Sweden and Echelle Douleur Inconfort Noveau-Ne (EDIN), ALPS and Premature Infant Pain Profile (PIPP) in Norway. Norwegian head nurses had more confidence in their pain assessment method and found the use of pain measurement scales more important than their Swedish colleagues.
The persisting difference between Swedish and Norwegian units in pain assessment and the use of pain measurement scales are not easily explained. However, the reported increased availability and reported use of pain measurement scales in neonatal care units in both countries may be seen as a contribution towards better awareness and recognition of pain, better pain management and potentially less suffering for vulnerable neonates.
A Swedish national consensus statement concerning prevention and management of pain in the newborn infant has been prepared by members of the Swedish Paediatric Pain Society (Svensk Barnsmärtförening, SBSF). The document is based on the Consensus Statement for the Prevention and Management of Pain in the Newborn Infant by Anand et al .