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

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)


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 semistructured interview methods, 16 UK pediatricians were interviewed regarding their perceptions of explaining chronic pain to children and families in clinical settings. Data were analyzed using inductive reflexive thematic analysis. Analyses generated 3 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. Perspective: Study findings identify the importance of language in addition to familial and broader factors that may influence the provision and adoption of chronic pain explanations provided by pediatricians to children and families. Improving pain explanation provision may influence treatment engagement for children and their parents, subsequently impacting pain related outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1396-1405
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pain
Issue number8
Early online date8 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2023


  • Explanations
  • children
  • clinicians
  • communication
  • pediatric pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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