Tokenism or true partnership: Parental involvement in a child’s acute pain care

Jacqueline Vasey, Joanna Smith, Marilynne Kirshbaum, Kathleen Chirema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Aims and objectives: To explore parental involvement in the child's acute pain care and establish ways in which parental preferences for involvement in their child's care can be identified, facilitated and enhanced by nurses. Background: Despite growing evidence supporting effective acute pain management in children and the availability of national and international practice guidelines, children still experience acute pain. Involving parents in their child's pain care has been identified as being a central tenet of pain management in children. Design and methods: A qualitative study using an ethnographical approach with nonparticipant observation and follow-up semi-structured interviews was undertaken. Nurses (n = 14), parents (n = 41), grandparents (n = 2), other relative (n = 1) and children (n = 30) participated. The framework approach underpinned data analysis. Consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ) enabled comprehensive reporting of the study. Results: Three concepts emerged from the data: “parents as advocates for their child,” “nurses promoting involvement and partnership” and “nurses unintentionally preventing involvement and partnership.” Variations in the way parents were involved in their child's pain care were identified. Despite family-centred care being the dominant model of involving families in their child's care, evidence of this being implemented was limited. Parents attempted to advocate effective pain care for their child, whether or not they were supported by nurses. Conclusions: Parental involvement in their child's acute pain care can improve the child's pain experience, reduce parental anxiety and increase parents’ satisfaction in care. Nurses aspired to involve parents in pain care, but did not always enact this in practice. Relevance for practice: Children deserve optimum pain care, which includes parental involvement. Parental involvement underpinned by the principles of family-centred care was poorly implemented. Parents attempted to be involved and advocate for their child's pain care whether or not they were supported by nurses. An alternative approach for supporting parents to advocate in their child's acute pain care is offered, the “Partnership in Pain Care Model.”.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1491-1505
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number9-10
Early online date14 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


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