Bedside assessment of heel lance pain in the hospitalized infant

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2002 Sep-Oct;31(5):551-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.2002.tb00080.x.


Objective: To evaluate a method of pain assessment to be used for hospitalized infants requiring blood test by a heel lance procedure.

Design: Observational study evaluating pain measurement and interrater reliability of pain measurement in hospitalized infants.

Setting: A Level III neonatal unit and a cardiac surgical unit at a major pediatric teaching hospital.

Participants: 20 infants whose gestational age ranged from 28 weeks to full-term.

Main outcome measures: Observations included behavioral measurements (facial expressions, body movements, and crying characteristics) and the physiologic measure of heart rate. Interrater reliability and the feasibility of using the procedural pain assessment method at the bedside were considered.

Results: The three behavioral measurements and heart rate were responsive to the heel lance. Interrater reliability was high for facial expressions and crying scores but was low for body movements.

Conclusions: Modifications have been made to the method of procedural pain assessment to be used in a subsequent study. The modified method is expected to be a reliable measure of procedural pain caused by a heel lance and can easily be used at the bedside during the course of further research.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Blood Specimen Collection / adverse effects*
  • Blood Specimen Collection / instrumentation
  • Child, Hospitalized* / psychology
  • Crying
  • Facial Expression
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Heel / blood supply*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior / physiology
  • Infant Behavior / psychology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Kinesics
  • Male
  • Neonatal Nursing / methods
  • Neonatal Nursing / standards
  • Nursing Assessment / methods*
  • Nursing Assessment / standards
  • Nursing Evaluation Research
  • Observer Variation
  • Pain / diagnosis*
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pain Measurement / methods*
  • Pain Measurement / standards