Pain Experience in a US Children's Hospital: A Point Prevalence Survey Undertaken After the Implementation of a System-Wide Protocol to Eliminate or Decrease Pain Caused by Needles

Hosp Pediatr. 2018 Sep;8(9):515-523. doi: 10.1542/hpeds.2018-0039. Epub 2018 Aug 3.


Objectives: Pain in hospitalized children remains under-assessed and undertreated. With this study, we aim to describe results from a repeat single-day, hospital-wide survey of children's pain and its treatment after the initiation of a hospital-wide quality improvement initiative used to reduce or eliminate pain caused by needle procedures.

Methods: All patients and parents listed on the inpatient morning census, in emergency department and outpatient surgery registration lists, were invited to participate in a brief single-day point prevalence survey of their experience with pain and its management in the hospital setting. Results were compared with a survey conducted 2 years earlier, before implementation of a system-wide Children's Comfort Promise needle pain treatment and prevention protocol.

Results: A total of 194 children and their parents participated in the current survey. A higher percentage of children reported having no pain compared with the previous survey (33% vs 24%; P = .07; not significant) and fewer experienced severe pain (score ≥7 out of 10). Fewer children identified pain caused by needles as the cause of the worst pain (21% vs 30%), although it remained the highest reported cause of the most painful experience overall. The number of pain management strategies administered and offered to children with needle pain (distraction, positioning, numbing cream, and sucrose and/or breastfeeding for infants) increased.

Conclusions: The implementation of a mandatory Comfort Promise protocol used to minimize or prevent pain caused by elective needle procedures was associated with a significant reduction in overall pain prevalence and improved use of evidence-based practices for needle pain management.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Anesthetics, Local / therapeutic use
  • Breast Feeding
  • Child
  • Child, Hospitalized
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Needles
  • Pain Management / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pain, Procedural / epidemiology*
  • Pain, Procedural / prevention & control
  • Parents
  • Patient Positioning
  • Prevalence
  • Punctures / methods*
  • Sucrose / therapeutic use
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweetening Agents / therapeutic use
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Analgesics
  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Sucrose