Pediatricians' management practices for chronic pain


Pediatricians' management practices for chronic pain


Thompson LA; Knapp CA; Feeg V; Madden VL; Shenkman EA


Journal Of Palliative Medicine




Biomarkers of Pain


OBJECTIVE: While research has established that pediatric pain is undertreated, it is unclear who should have primary responsibility for its management. This study asks pediatricians who they believe should treat pain and how pain should be assessed and managed. METHODS: We administered a mail and online survey about pediatric chronic pain and palliative care to a random sample of 800 U.S. pediatricians, and performed descriptive and multivariate analyses on 303 respondents. RESULTS: Most pediatrician responders were white, non-Hispanic (55.8%), and had been in practice 10 or more years (68.0%). Only one third of pediatricians (32.3%) felt it was their primary responsibility to treat chronic pain; most believed pain specialists (58.1%), other specialists, (39.6%), or hospice providers (26.1%) should be responsible. For pain assessments, most report using parent (87.1%) or patient (84.2%) verbal reports and one half (49.5%) use pain diaries, although multivariate analyses showed that inpatient pediatricians were significantly less likely to use these modalities. Acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) were commonly cited medications to usually or always treat pain (61.7% and 66.9%, respectively) and 19.3% report never or rarely prescribing intermittent opiates in their practice. Multivariate analyses showed that there were no consistent physician qualities that predicted the use of opiate prescriptions. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings illustrate that pediatricians' theoretical approaches to chronic pain management are more collaborative than independent. Future research must test if pediatricians could benefit from supplemental pain education, increased emphasis on clinical guidance, and an increased awareness of hospice to be included in the pain management team for children.


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Thompson LA; Knapp CA; Feeg V; Madden VL; Shenkman EA, “Pediatricians' management practices for chronic pain,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed February 24, 2024,