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Parental Perceptions about Pain and Pain Management Practices in Neonatal Units: A Review

OM Kyololo
D Kereri
I Marete


Background: Pain management in neonates remains sub-optimal in sub-Saharan countries like Kenya due to lack of resources to procure pharmacological analgesics. There, however, exist low-cost, mother-driven pain management strategies such as breastfeeding and kangaroo care that can be used for pain relief in neonates in Kenya. Successful use of these interventions is depended on parents’ perception about neonatal pain and how well pain in neonates is managed during hospitalisation.

Objective: To determine parents’ perception about pain and pain management practices in neonatal units.

Data sources: MEDLINE, CINAHL, Embase and PsycINFO databases were searched  using the following key words: parent(s), perception(s), view(s), neonate, newborn, pain, procedural pain, management, and practices.

Study selection : Studies published in peer-reviewed English journals that focused on acute procedural pain or acute persistent pain on neonates were included in the review.

Data extraction : Two independent authors critically reviewed retrieved articles and extracted data on study sample, setting, design as well as key findings on parental perceptions about pain and pain  management practices.

Data synthesis: A meta-synthesis approach involving a critical evaluation of convergences and  divergences of participants’ views about pain and pain management practices.

Results: Of the 101 articles generated through the databases search, four met the inclusion criteria. Parents believe that neonates experienced a lot of pain during hospitalisation that is often not adequately treated and desire to be involved in the pain care of their neonates.

Conclusion: The high frequency of pain experienced by neonates in the course of hospitalisation should serve as an impetus to involve parents in procedural pain management in neonatal units.