Pain management strategies used during early childhood immunisation in Victoria

J Paediatr Child Health. 2013 Apr;49(4):313-8. doi: 10.1111/jpc.12161. Epub 2013 Mar 14.


Aim: The study aims to identify pain management practices used during scheduled childhood immunisation.

Methods: A survey of members of the Australian Nurses Federation (Victorian Branch) Immunisation Nurses Special Interest Group. Questions included frequency of use of pain reduction strategies during immunisations for infants, toddlers and children, injection techniques and existence of an articulated pain management policy.

Results: The survey was emailed to 274 Immunisation Nurses Special Interest Group members with registered email addresses, and 125 (46%) completed the survey. Nineteen respondents (15.2%) stated their main place of employment had a pain management policy during immunisations and 20 (16.0%) respondents were not sure. Distraction strategies were frequently used during immunisation for all age groups, with 95 (76.0%) replying that distraction was used often or always. Breastfeeding during immunisation for infants younger than 6 months was used occasionally (n = 54, 44.6%), often (n = 11, 9.1%) or never (n = 55, 45.5%) and was used even less frequently for infants aged 6-12 months. Sucrose or other sweet solutions were almost never used for infants prior to, or during, immunisation. As a reward, lollies were frequently given to children after immunisations. Topical anaesthetics were almost never used in any age groups. Over half the respondents used a rapid injection technique; 55 (44.7%) used a slow technique and four respondents aspirated the needle before injections.

Conclusions: Many distraction strategies were used during and following immunisation but sweet solutions, breastfeeding or topical anaesthetics were rarely used. Use of these strategies where feasible, should be facilitated in diverse settings where immunisations take place.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anesthetics, Local / administration & dosage
  • Breast Feeding
  • Child, Preschool
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Immunization / adverse effects
  • Immunization / nursing*
  • Infant
  • Pain Management / nursing*
  • Play and Playthings
  • Sweetening Agents / administration & dosage
  • Victoria


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Sweetening Agents