BACKGROUND: Inadequate pain management is linked to potential neurodevelopmental and behavioral problems. Sufficient knowledge in neonatal pain is required to facilitate optimal pain management. The aim of this study was therefore to assess the knowledge and perception of pain experienced by neonates requiring intensive care among pediatric doctors working in a level III neonatal intensive care unit in Malaysian hospitals.
METHODS: This was a cross-sectional study conducted over a period of 18 months. A self-administered questionnaire assessing knowledge and perception regarding neonatal pain was used.
RESULTS: Twenty-four hospitals participated in the study, with 423 respondents. The response rate was 85%. One hundred and ninety-seven respondents (47%) were aware of tools for neonatal pain assessment, but only 6% used them in daily practice. Doctors with >4 years of experience in neonatal care had better awareness of available pain assessment tools (59.4% vs 40.9%, P = 0.001). Sixteen statements regarding knowledge were assessed. Mean score obtained was 10.5 ± 2.5. Consultants/specialists obtained a higher mean score than medical officers (11.9 vs 10.4, P < 0.001). More than 80% of respondents were able to discriminate painful from non-painful procedures.
CONCLUSION: Clinicians involved in neonatal care, especially those with longer experience were knowledgeable about neonatal pain. Gaps between knowledge and its application, however, remain. Implementation of clinical guidelines to improve the quality of assessment and adequate pain management in neonates is recommended.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.