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Improving pain relief for children in Thailand

April 21, 2016

​Children are more at risk than adults for untreated or undertreated pain from surgery, injury, and infections. This can include negative physical, psychological, and social consequences for both the young patients and their families. Children in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) often have limited access to pain care. Yet it is neither difficult nor expensive to prevent or treat most types of pain in children if attitude and information barriers are overcome.

Support from the Teasdale-Corti Global Research program allowedresearchers from Dalhousie University in Canada and Khon Kaen University in Thailand to launch a collaborative project to improve the way several hospitals in Eastern Thailand deal with children’s pain.

The research team developed and implemented guidelines to help hospitals reduce the negative effects of pain for children and their families. They also explored ways to encourage nurses and doctors to better use new and existing pain management methods to improve treatment. 

Success leads to project expansion

The project in Thailand quickly proved successful in improving pediatric pain care in hospitals through its knowledge translation approach. As a result of this success, a major pediatric teaching hospital in São Paulo, Brazil, invited the team to expand the project to Brazil.

Drawing from these experiences, the researchers joined with others to start the ChildKind Initiative, a worldwide network of researchers and practitioners working to develop accreditation standards for hospitals on ways to recognize, measure, and treat children’s pain.

The hospitals in Thailand used the ChildKind principles, including implementing a facility-wide pain prevention policy, ongoing education for staff, and regular self-monitoring. At the close of the project, two Brazilian hospitals were developing a pain management process to meet the ChildKind standards.

This project was part of the Teasdale-Corti Global Health Research Partnership Program. From 2005-2013, the Teasdale-Corti program supported 14 teams of researchers from Canada and LMICs. Teams developed, tested, and implemented innovative approaches for health and development. The Teasdale-Corti program was inspired by the remarkable work of Canadian surgeon Dr Lucille Teasdale and her husband, Italian pediatrician Dr Piero Corti. IDRC and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research co-funded the project.​

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