Original articles

Evaluation of pain incidence and pain management in a South African paediatric trauma unit

Tessa Thiadens, Elleke Vervat, Rene Albertyn, Monique van Dijk, A B (Sebastian) van As


Objectives. To evaluate pain incidence and pain management in a South African paediatric trauma unit, and to compare the usefulness of 5 different assessment tools.
Design. A prospective observational study, using the Numerical Rating Scale for pain (NRS pain), Numerical Rating Scale for anxiety (NRS anxiety), the Alder Hey Triage Pain Score (AHTPS), the COMFORT behaviour scale and the Touch Visual Pain Scale (TVPS). All patients were assessed at admission; those who were hospitalised were again assessed every 3 hours until discharge.
Results. A total of 165 patients, with a mean age of 5.3 years (range 0 - 13), were included. NRS scores were indicative of moderate to severe pain in 13.3% of the patients, and no pain in 24% at admission. Two-thirds of the patients received no analgesics; for them, NRS pain, AHTPS and TVP scores were lower than the scores for the other children.
Conclusion. Pain and anxiety incidences in this paediatric trauma unit are relatively low. Implementation of a standard pain assessment tool in the emergency department triage system can improve pain management. The AHTPS is the most promising for use in non-Western settings.

Authors' affiliations

Tessa Thiadens, Erasmus MC-Sophia Children's Hospital

Elleke Vervat, rasmus MC-Sophia Children's Hospital

Rene Albertyn, Paediatric Surgery, Red Cross Children's Hospital

Monique van Dijk, rasmus MC-Sophia Children's Hospital

A B (Sebastian) van As, Trauma Unit, Red Cross Children's Hospital

Full Text



pain; distress; paediatric

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2011;101(8):533-536.

Article History

Date submitted: 2010-08-14
Date published: 2011-07-25

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