I am a clinical psychologist, Canada Research Chair in Pain and Child Health, and Professor based in the Centre for Pediatric Pain Research at the IWK Health Centre and Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. For the last 20 years I've been studying pain in children. We have certainly come a long way since the 1970s and 80s when it comes to understanding, assessing, and managing pain in children. Back then it was believed that children, particularly infants and preterm neonates, were too neurologically immature to feel pain. These children often underwent painful surgeries and invasive procedures with the simple use of paralytics, rather than proper analgesia and anesthesia. Looking back, it is hard to fathom how this could have ever been acceptable. But today, our failure to offer and provide children with evidence-based pain management interventions for common procedures, such as immunizations, illustrates the amount of work we still have left to improve the current state of pain management in children. It is frustrating to observe the huge discrepancy between the quantity and quality of the research evidence that supports these interventions and the striking lack of uptake by health care professionals and the general public to use them. Why is it that most parents are generally unaware that they can use simple strategies like distraction and deep breathing to significantly reduce immunization pain in their children? Why is it that they don’t know that they can use a topical anesthetic cream, applied about an hour before the procedure, to significantly reduce pain? I am a pain psychologist and my husband is an anesthesiologist. We know what proper evidence-based pain care is, and even we have had to demand it for our four children (sometimes in the very institution I work in). But not every child is as fortunate as mine are, to have pain experts as parents who know enough to demand and expect the best pain care for their children. I am proud to be a scientist and health advocate so that we can all work together for better pain management for children. Our recent YouTube video for parents ("It Doesn't Have to Hurt": http://pediatric-pain.ca/it-doesnt-have-to-hurt is just one example of my advocacy efforts in the area. Please help us share the message about pain management in children with others!
I’m a Patient Leader