The Knowledge, Attitudes and Barriers amongst Health Professionals Regarding Acute and Chronic Pain Management in Children: An Integrative Review
Pain is one of the most common causes for people to seek healthcare and the management of pain is challenging. Both acute and chronic pain is highly prevalent in children presenting to healthcare facilities. Health professionals play a vital role in the assessment and management of pain in children. Everyone within the healthcare team is responsible for the management of pain. There is mounting evidence to suggest the under treatment of acute pain in children can have consequences and lead to issues with chronic pain in the long-term. Despite this, pain in children continues to be poorly assessed and managed by health professionals. This integrative review aimed to explore the knowledge, attitudes and barriers amongst health professionals regarding acute and chronic pain management in children. The integrative review method was used and was guided by Whittemore and Knafl’s five-stage framework. The five stages of this method are; identification of problems, searching the literature, evaluating data, analysing the collected data and finally presenting the findings. Each included study was independently critically appraised using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. Nine relevant studies were included in this review. Five of these were quantitative, three were qualitative and one was a mixed-methods study. The findings of this integrative review highlighted that paediatric pain assessment and management is suboptimal and the knowledge and attitudes of health professionals remains unsatisfactory. Barriers to effective pain assessment and management in children still exist. These barriers are mainly due to factors such as lack of pain education content at undergraduate level for health professionals. Furthermore, pain assessment tools are under-utilised and there is a fear of using opioids in children amongst health professionals. Many myths about pain in children still exist that hinder appropriate treatment of pain in this population group. This integrative review provided evidence to develop a framework to guide health professionals’ practice that is specifically aimed at improving acute and chronic pain management in children.