The use of children's free drawings in assessing the presence of paediatric pain

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This study aims to investigate the use of hospitalized children's free drawings to assess the presence of post-operative pain in patients where language barriers previously prevented the use of existing pain assessment methods. This research involved 50 children ages 6 - 13 years, mostly from impoverished families, treated at the Red Cross Children's Hospital. The design is exploratory-descriptive in nature. The methodology was to collect drawings (110) on admission, after surgery (described as minor to moderate), when the children were expected to be experiencing pain, and also on discharge from hospital. These drawings were compared for picture content and children's responses to a combination of two scales developed and tested elsewhere (Word Graphic Scale and the Pain Ladder Scale), in an attempt to devise an alternative route to gauge subjective pain through drawings. Parental (44) and respondent (6) interviews provided information on parental reaction to children when in pain, and patient pain behaviour. Evidence suggests that children's free drawings can be successfully used in assessing the presence of pain but not the intensity thereof, and are recommended for use in the treatment process.

Bibliography: pages 113-118.