Addressing parental concerns about pain during childhood vaccination: is there enough time to include pain management in the ambulatory setting?

Clin J Pain. 2012 Mar-Apr;28(3):238-42. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e31822af81c.


Objective: Pain from vaccine injections remains undertreated, despite the availability of numerous pain-relieving strategies. Healthcare providers report lack of time within current office workflows as a major barrier to routine pain management. The objective was to document the total time involved in outpatient vaccine appointments to test the hypothesis that offering pain-relieving strategies can be practically implemented when considering the element of time to vaccine injection.

Patients and methods: Prospective naturalistic study in 8 urban outpatient primary care clinics (4 pediatric and 4 family practice) in Toronto. For 48 to 59 consecutive childhood vaccination appointments at each site, child waiting time from clinic arrival until first vaccine injection was tracked.

Results: Altogether, 405 vaccine appointments were included. The median age of the child undergoing vaccination was 12 months. The mean (SD) time from clinic arrival until first vaccine injection was 41.6 minutes (20.9), with a range of 7 to 132 minutes. Linear regression identified a significant (P<0.05) difference according to clinic [ranging from 19.4 min (6.5) to 57.5 min (20.2)] and number of family members in the appointment [ranging from 40.6 min (21.0) for an appointment in the index child only to 50 min (14.3) for an appointment in the index child and 2 other family members].

Conclusions: Contrary to healthcare provider perceptions, the timing of outpatient childhood vaccine appointments allows for the inclusion of pain management interventions. Efforts should now focus on educating healthcare providers and parents about the value of pain management and how to implement evidence-based strategies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pain / prevention & control
  • Pain Management*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Time Factors
  • Tornadoes
  • Vaccination / adverse effects*