Bonnie Stevens

CIHR Awards Grant for Pain Management Study of Children in Palliative Care

2 November 2012

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has awarded Bloomberg Nursing professor, Dr. Bonnie Stevens, RN, PhD and Bloomberg Nursing graduates, Drs. Kimberley Widger RN, PhD, CHPCN(C) and Janet Yamada, RN, PhD a grant to summarize existing research on pain assessment and management in paediatric palliative care (PPC). Their work will identify the areas in need of additional research and to start the process of developing guidelines for health professionals to provide the most effective care for children facing life-threatening illnesses.

Paediatric palliative care (PPC) is a relatively new, but growing, clinical and research field. The Institute of Medicine has identified the need for more studies of pain and symptom management in children to guide clinical practice in PPC. While researchers have looked at children with acute, procedural, and chronic pain, those children who are unlikely to reach adulthood, often due to rare, genetic conditions, have received less attention regarding their pain management. This grant allows Dr. Stevens and her team to take a closer look at the pain related needs of those children and to answer the questions 1) Are the pain assessment tools used with children with these conditions, reliable, valid, feasible and useful in a clinical setting and 2) what is the breadth and quality of studies done to date that may guide clinical practice related to pain management.

The study is also part of the Nursing Research Internship Program at the Hospital for Sick Children. A staff nurse will be assisting with all aspects of this project, while also attending weekly sessions on the research process. The internship program provides an opportunity for staff nurses to gain solid research experience.

The approach Drs. Stevens, Widger and Yamada will take with this review is unique in that they are bringing together clinicians and researchers whose primary focus is paediatric pain, and those whose primary focus is paediatric palliative care. Their goal is to identify key concepts, theories, sources of evidence, what is known, and gaps in the research to guide future studies and enhance clinical practices.

At the end of the grant, the team will present a one-day, interactive knowledge transition (KT) workshop to better inform clinicians, researchers, policymakers and potentially families on what the research has uncovered. Drs. Stevens, Widger, and Yamada also plan on using the KT workshop to identify at least one new research project that will further advance the field of PPC.

This KT workshop will also provide the opportunity to prepare an evidence summary that will be tailored to the interests of researchers and one tailored to the interests of clinicians in order to guide best practices in pain assessment and management in PPC. Ultimately, this study will be a significant step in ensuring optimal pain assessment and management for children with life-threatening illnesses, and managing end of life care.