Pain and pain management in newborn infants: A survey of physicians and nurses

Fran Lang Porter, Cynthia M. Wolf, Jennifer Gold, David Lotsoff, J. Philip Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

164 Scopus citations


Background. Despite an increased awareness among clinicians regarding pair and pain management for infants undergoing surgery, pain associated with procedures performed outside the operating room may not be adequately managed. Purpose. To examine the beliefs and self-described behavior of physicians and nurses regarding the management of procedural pain in newborn infants. Methods. A survey was distributed to 467 clinicians (nurses and physicians) working in 11 level 11 and 4 level III nurseries in a large metropolitan area. Respondents were asked to rate the painfulness of 12 common bedside nursery procedures and how often pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic (comfort) measures are currently used and should be used for those procedures. Demographic data were also collected. Results. Surveys were completed by 374 clinicians (80% response rate). Physicians and nurses believe infants feel as much pain as adults and that 9 of the 12 listed procedures are moderately to very painful. Neither pharmacologic nor comfort measures are believed to be used frequently, even for the most painful procedures. Physicians and nurses believe both pharmacologic and comfort measures should be used more frequently, but nurses believe comfort measures should be used more frequently than do physicians. Beliefs about infant pain and procedural pain were related to pain management preferences. Physicians' but not nurses' ratings were associated with significant personal pain. Conclusions. Despite their beliefs that infants experience significant procedure-related pain, clinicians believe pain management for infants remains below optimal levels. Barriers to more consistent and effective pain management need to be identified and surmounted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-632
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1997


  • Anesthesia
  • Bedside procedures
  • Comfort
  • Infant
  • Pain


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