Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Graduate Nursing

First Advisor

Marylou Mylant


The purpose of this study was to compare parental ratings of their preverbal child's level of pain postoperatively to pediatric nurses' ratings of the child's level of pain. In addition, the relation between pain ratings and full-term or preterm delivery was analyzed. Orem's (1985) Self-Care Model served as the framework for this study. According to the Self-Care Deficit Theory of Nursing, parents serve as dependent care agents and assist their young children to meet basic needs. Parents, as dependent care agents, assist with the pain assessment and management needs of their child. This study was a secondary analysis of previously generated data by Schade, Joyce, Gerkensmeyer, & Keck (1993) who examined reliability and validity of tools to measure pain in preverbal children. A descriptive correlational secondary analysis was performed looking at data generated by the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Pain Scale (CHEOPS) (nurses' pain ratings) and the verbal descriptor guide with a numerical scale (parental pain ratings). Data for this study were based on a sample of 103 hospitalized children, ages one month to 36 months, who had undergone a surgical procedure within the last 48 hours. The sample consisted of a wide variety of surgical procedures covering various acute or chronic pediatric health conditions. The subjects primarily included caucasian females and males with about one-third born prematurely. Pre and post medication pain ratings were obtained for these children from both nurses and parents. The select data were analyzed using a repeated measures factorial analysis of variance, a simple correlation, a dependent measures t-test, and descriptive statistics. Results of this study indicated that there were no differences in pain ratings of preterm and full-term gestational age children by parents or nurses. There was a significant (p < .01) but small positive relation between nurses' and parents' ratings of children's pain intensity. The pain ratings for both parents and nurses significantly (p < .01) decreased from pre to post medication ratings. The pain ratings from pre to post medication significantly (p < .01) decreased more for parents than for nurses. Results of this study indicate that parents do have the ability to assess their young child's pain. Considering the small positive correlation in the parental and nursing pain ratings, greater collaboration is indicated between parents and nurses regarding pain assessment of the young child. Nurses can foster the Self-Care Deficit Theory (Orem, 1985) by supporting parents in their role as dependent care agents of the child. As dependent care agents, parents would assist with pain assessment and management needs of their child.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Pain in children
Pain in infants
Pediatric nursing
Parent and child




South Dakota State University



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