Pediatrician explanations of pediatric pain in clinical settings: A delicate craft

Abbie Jordan, Myfanwy Williams, Abbie Jones, Melanie Noel, Alexandra Neville, Jacqueline Clinch, Tamar Pincus, Jeremy Gauntlett-Gilbert, Hayley Leake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Explaining chronic pain to children and families can be challenging, particularly in the absence of an obvious physiologically identifiable cause for the child’s pain. In addition to medical intervention, children and families may expect clinicians to provide clarity around the cause of pain. Such explanations are often provided by clinicians who have not received formal pain training. This qualitative study sought to explore the following question: What do pediatricians consider to be important when providing pain explanations to children and their parents? Using semi-structured interview methods, sixteen UK pediatricians were interviewed regarding their perceptions of explaining chronic pain to children and families in clinical settings. Data were analysed using inductive reflexive thematic analysis. Analyses generated three themes: 1) timing of the explanation, 2) casting a wider net, and 3) tailoring of the narrative. Study findings demonstrated the need for pediatricians to skilfully interpret where children and families are in their pain journey and deliver an appropriate and adaptable explanation relating to individual needs. Analyses identified the importance of providing a pain explanation that could be repeated and understood by others outside the consultation room, to enable children and families to accept the explanation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Pain
Publication statusAcceptance date - 4 Mar 2023


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