Predictors of effective management of acute pain in children within a UK ambulance service: A cross-sectional study

Published:December 09, 2019DOI:



      We aimed to identify predictors of effective management of acute pain in children in the pre-hospital setting.


      A retrospective cross-sectional study using electronic clinical records from one large UK ambulance service during 01-Oct-2017 to 30-Sep-2018 was performed using multivariable logistic regression. We included all children <18 years suffering acute pain. Children with a Glasgow Coma Scale score of <15, no documented pain or without a second pain score were excluded. The outcome measure was effective pain management (abolition or reduction of pain by ≥2 out of 10 using the numeric pain rating scale, Wong-Baker FACES® scale or FLACC [face, legs, activity, crying and consolability] scale).


      2312 patients were included for analysis. Median (IQR) age was 13 (9–16), 54% were male and the cause of pain was trauma in 66% of cases. Predictors of effective pain management include children who were younger (0–5 years) compared to older (12–17 years) (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.53; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.18–1.97), administered analgesia (AOR 2.26; CI 1.87–2.73), attended by a paramedic (AOR 1.46; CI 1.19–1.79) or living in an area of low deprivation (index of multiple deprivation [IMD] 8–10) compared to children in an area of high deprivation (IMD 1–3) (AOR 1.37; CI 1.04–1.80). Child sex, type of pain, transport time, non-pharmacological treatments and clinician experience were not significant.


      These predictors highlight disparity in effective pre-hospital management of acute pain in children. Qualitative research is needed to help explain these findings.


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