|Institution:||University of Arizona|
|Department:||The University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix|
|Full text PDF:||http://hdl.handle.net/10150/535399|
Background: Pain scales developed for children were noted not to be useful or practical in an ambulance, and EMS providers have been found to use non‐standardized measures of pain severity in children. A recently published evidence‐based guideline recommends using pictorial scales (PS) for patients aged 4‐12 years, and observational‐behavioral scales (OBS) for younger patients. Objectives were to assess EMS providers’ baseline knowledge, self‐reported practices, self‐efficacy for treating pain in children, and preference for pediatric pain scales. Methods: A survey and education module were administered to a convenience sample of EMS providers from four agencies within a large metropolitan area. Providers answered 20 Likert scale items, received a 15‐minute didactic on pain assessment in children, and then answered four additional survey items. Results: There were 397 surveys returned (80% of providers receiving didactic). Six‐tenths of providers had practiced >10 years, 99% were EMT‐P, and 91% were male. 88% reported feeling “Very‐Extremely” comfortable measuring pain severity in adults; 38% reported the same in children. 57% reported having been trained on the use of pain scales in children; 46% were at least “Moderately” familiar with any PS and 24% with any OBS. While 44% assessed their current practice as “Sometimes‐Always” using pediatric scales, <25% of providers reported carrying paper or electronic copies of pain scales. 75% reported using their own observation to assess pain “Most of the Time‐Always.” Self‐efficacy results for utilizing pain protocols and measuring pain scores for 8‐year and 36‐month patients revealed 68% and 48% were at least “Mostly” certain they could perform correctly. After education about pediatric pain scales, 41% and 31% reported they would be more than “Somewhat” likely to use PS or OBS, respectively. Conclusion: A sample of EMS providers reported a high level of discomfort assessing pain in children, a moderate prevalence of training, and a low familiarity with existing pediatric pain scales. Most use general impression to assess pain instead of pain scales. After education, the minority of providers reported likelihood of incorporating these tools into their practice. This is an important barrier to adoption of the evidence‐based guideline for management of acute traumatic pain.