Pain experiences and non-pharmacological strategies for pain management after tonsillectomy: a qualitative interview study of children and parents

J Child Health Care. 2005 Sep;9(3):196-207. doi: 10.1177/1367493505054417.


Tonsillectomy is one of the most common paediatric surgical procedures. This study aimed to investigate children's experience of pain and the nonpharmacological strategies that they used to manage pain after tonsillectomy. A further aim was to investigate parental views on these same phenomena. Six children (aged seven to 18 years) and their parents (four mothers and two fathers) were interviewed separately on the day after tonsillectomy. The data were analysed using a qualitative approach. Pain experiences were divided into the categories of physiological pain and psychological pain. Children rated their 'worst pain' during the past 24 hours between 6 and 10 (visual analogue scale, 0-10). The non-pharmacological strategies used most frequently to manage pain were thermal regulation (physical method) and distraction (cognitive-behavioural method) according to the framework used. Specific non-pharmacological strategies for pain management relative to different surgical procedures need to be considered.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analgesia / methods*
  • Analgesia / nursing
  • Analgesia / psychology
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Child
  • Child, Hospitalized / psychology*
  • Female
  • Helping Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massage
  • Nurse's Role
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Postoperative / diagnosis
  • Pain, Postoperative / etiology
  • Pain, Postoperative / prevention & control*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Pediatric Nursing / methods
  • Postoperative Care / methods
  • Postoperative Care / nursing
  • Postoperative Care / psychology
  • Qualitative Research
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden
  • Tonsillectomy / adverse effects*
  • Tonsillectomy / nursing
  • Tonsillectomy / psychology