Paediatric Palliative Care Guidelines
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Edition/Revision: 1.0

Diagnosis of Pain - Archived

Diagnosis of pain in children is complicated by the fact that:

  • Younger children may lack the necessary verbal capacity and abstract conceptual ability to express it.
  • Many children, particularly in ACT/RCPCH categories III and IV (see Table), are developmentally delayed and may be unable to verbalise.
  • Children’s experience is often reported by parents or other carers, who may be affected by cultural assumptions such as:
    • Children do not suffer pain as intensely as adults.
    • Children can and should tolerate pain well.
    • Children are vulnerable to the adverse effects of painkillers, such that it is better for them to be in pain than risk toxicity.
  • The objective signs of pain are the same as those of other causes of distress, such as anxiety, leading observers to conclude wrongly that pain is not the cause.

Where there is doubt it is generally better to assume a child is in pain and treat appropriately, rather than risk allowing him or her to experience unnecessary discomfort.

Edition/Revision: 1.0
Created 18 Jul 2013 - Archived
Validated 19 Jul 2013 by Ian Back
Last modified 27 Feb 2024
Sun 03 Mar 2024 00:12:08 GMT
Last modified 27 Feb 2024