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      Measuring children’s distress during burns dressing changes: literature search for measures appropriate for indigenous children in South Africa

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          Abstract

          Background

          Virtual reality is consistently reported as effective in reducing pain and anxiety in children during burns dressing changes in recent Western studies. Pain scales are a commonly reported outcome measure. Virtual reality is persuasive for all children in distress during medical procedures, because it is a nonaddictive, novel, and inexpensive form of distraction which can be applied repeatedly with good effect. We intend to use virtual reality in South Africa for the many children hospitalized with severe burns from mechanisms rarely seen in the Western world (paraffin/kerosene stoves exploding, electrical fires, shack/township fires, boiling liquid spills). Many severely burnt children are indigenous South Africans who did not speak English, and whose illiteracy levels, cultures, family dynamics, and experiences of pain potentially invalidate the use of conventional pain scales as outcome measures. The purpose of this study was to identify objective measures with sound psychometric properties and strong clinical utility, to assess distress during burns dressing changes in hospitalized indigenous South African children. Choice of measures was constrained by the burns dressing change environment, the ethics of doing no harm whilst measuring distress in vulnerable children, and of capturing valid measures of distress over the entire burns dressing change procedure.

          Methods

          We conducted two targeted systematic reviews of the literature. All major library databases were searched, and measures with strong psychometric properties and sound clinical utility were sought.

          Results

          Seven potentially useful measures were identified, ie, child’s and caregivers’ heart rate, which was measured continuously throughout the procedure, observed physical manifestations of distress using different scales (FLACCs [Face, Legs, Activity, Cry, Consolability Scale] and/ or Pain Behavior Checklist), time taken, and number of staff required to complete the procedure, and staff perspectives on the ease of use of the procedure.

          Conclusion

          These psychometrically sound, clinically useful measures are alternatives to conventional pain scales, and should support valid research into the effectiveness of virtual reality for illiterate children with non-Western cultures and languages.

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          Most cited references 42

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          The validation of visual analogue scales as ratio scale measures for chronic and experimental pain.

          Visual analogue scales (VAS) of sensory intensity and affective magnitude were validated as ratio scale measures for both chronic and experimental pain. Chronic pain patients and healthy volunteers made VAS sensory and affective responses to 6 noxious thermal stimuli (43, 45, 47, 48, 49 and 51 degrees C) applied for 5 sec to the forearm by a contact thermode. Sensory VAS and affective VAS responses to these temperatures yielded power functions with exponents 2.1 and 3.8, respectively; these functions were similar for pain patients and for volunteers. The power functions were predictive of estimated ratios of sensation or affect produced by pairs of standard temperatures (e.g. 47 and 49 degrees C), thereby providing direct evidence for ratio scaling properties of VAS. Vas sensory intensity responses to experimental pain, VAS sensory intensity responses to different levels of chronic pain, and direct temperature (experimental pain) matches to 3 levels of chronic pain were all internally consistent, thereby demonstrating the valid use of VAS for the measurement of and comparison between chronic pain and experimental heat pain.
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            The FLACC: a behavioral scale for scoring postoperative pain in young children.

            To evaluate the reliability and validity of the FLACC Pain Assessment Tool which incorporates five categories of pain behaviors: facial expression; leg movement; activity; cry; and consolability. Eighty-nine children aged 2 months to 7 years, (3.0 +/- 2.0 yrs.) who had undergone a variety of surgical procedures, were observed in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). The study consisted of: 1) measuring interrater reliability; 2) testing validity by measuring changes in FLACC scores in response to administration of analgesics; and 3) comparing FLACC scores to other pain ratings. The FLACC tool was found to have high interrater reliability. Preliminary evidence of validity was provided by the significant decrease in FLACC scores related to administration of analgesics. Validity was also supported by the correlation with scores assigned by the Objective Pain Scale (OPS) and nurses' global ratings of pain. The FLACC provides a simple framework for quantifying pain behaviors in children who may not be able to verbalize the presence or severity of pain. Our preliminary data indicates the FLACC pain assessment tool is valid and reliable.
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              Systematic review of the psychometric properties, interpretability and feasibility of self-report pain intensity measures for use in clinical trials in children and adolescents.

              The aim of this study was to systematically review the psychometric properties, interpretability and feasibility of self-report pain intensity measures for children and adolescents for use in clinical trials evaluating pain treatments. Databases were searched for self-report measures of single-item ratings of pain intensity for children aged 3-18 years. A total of 34 single-item self-report measures were found. The measures' psychometric properties, interpretability and feasibility, were evaluated independently by two investigators according to a set of psychometric criteria. Six single-item measures met the a priori criteria and were included in the final analysis. While these six scales were determined as psychometrically sound and show evidence of responsivity, they had varying degrees of interpretability and feasibility. No single scale was found to be optimal for use with all types of pain or across the developmental age span. Specific recommendations regarding the most psychometrically sound and feasible measures based on age/developmental level and type of pain are discussed. Future research is needed to strengthen the measurement of pain in clinical trials with children.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                1178-7090
                2011
                06 September 2011
                : 4
                : 263-277
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Physiotherapy, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
                [2 ]International Centre for Allied Health Evidence, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
                [3 ]Red Cross Children’s Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Karen Grimmer-Somers, International Centre for Allied Health, Evidence, School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, City East Campus, North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia, Tel +61 8 8302 2769, Fax +61 8 8302 2766, Email karen.grimmer-somers@ 123456unisa.edu.au
                Article
                jpr-4-263
                10.2147/JPR.S21821
                3176143
                21941458
                © 2011 Louw et al, publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Original Research

                Anesthesiology & Pain management

                measurement, children, burns, distress, anxiety, pain, validity

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