Point prevalence study of pediatric inpatients who are unable to communicate effectively about pain.

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2014 Nov

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<p><strong>OBJECTIVE: </strong>Pediatric inpatients may be at risk for inadequate pain management if they are unable to communicate effectively because of age, physical or cognitive impairment, or medical procedures. We conducted a point prevalence study to estimate the proportion of inpatients at a children's hospital who have difficulty communicating to hospital staff.</p>

<p><strong>METHODS: </strong>We obtained nurse reports of ability to communicate for all inpatients aged ≥12 months in a pediatric hospital. Demographic information was obtained from the medical record.</p>

<p><strong>RESULTS: </strong>Questionnaires were completed for 254 inpatients. Forty percent of inpatients had some difficulty communicating, and 69% had experienced pain during the hospitalization. Patient ability to communicate was not related to experiencing pain (χ(2) test, P = .30) or effectiveness of pain management (χ(2) test, P = .80) but was associated with difficulty communicating about pain and nurses needing help from the caretaker to communicate with the patient (χ(2) tests, Ps &lt; .001).</p>

<p><strong>CONCLUSIONS: </strong>A substantial proportion of inpatients aged ≥12 months at a large children's hospital had difficulties communicating effectively and experienced pain during hospitalization. These communication difficulties were not associated with nurse reports of the effectiveness of pain management. However, patients who had difficulties communicating in general were also more likely to have difficulty communicating about pain specifically, and nurses were more likely to need help from the caregiver to understand these patients. Future directions include identifying which conditions, procedures, and medications are associated with inability to communicate.</p>



Alternate Title

Hosp Pediatr




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