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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Attributions of pain to infants : a comparative analysis of parents, nurses and paediatricians Pillai Riddell, Rebecca R. E.


The limited ability of infants to communicate their pain and to moderate their pain experience places great importance on caregivers in accurately detecting when they are suffering. The goal of this investigation was to conduct a comparative analysis of the pain judgments of three major infant caregiver populations (parents, nurses and paediatricians) and the beliefs that each group held in regards to those judgments. This study finds theoretical grounding in the Sociocommunication Model of Infant Pain. In order to understand the role of beliefs in pain judgments, the current study controlled other variables postulated by Craig and colleagues to impact the communication between an infant in pain and his/her caregiver. Participants provided attributions of pain after viewing video clips of infants (from five different age groups) who had received a routine immunization injection. Between caregiver group differences and differences across the pain attributions to different infant ages were examined. Parents attributed greater pain than paediatricians, while nurses did not differ from either group. A systematic age bias in pain attributions was also found, in that younger infants were attributed significantly less pain. Finally, several secondary findings contributed to a clearer understanding of both these findings. Using self-reported importance ratings as an indication, betweencaregiver group differences were found regarding how each sample made their pain attributions. As well, caregivers demonstrated different beliefs regarding the cognitive ability of infants of differing age groups. By elucidating infant pain attribution differences between caregivers and age groups, the current study helped determine possible factors responsible for the incidence of unrelieved infant pain.

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