Assessing younger school-aged children (age five to eight)

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Learn about pain assessment of younger school-age children. By this age, children begin to develop a sense of cause and effect concerning their pain.

Children of this age are beginning to develop a sense of cause and effect. They can understand that the pain they are feeling is likely due to some injury or illness. They may also understand that there is a time limit to their pain, that the pain will not last, and that the injury or illness is not life threatening. They may also understand that being in the hospital and undergoing painful procedures will help them feel better.

Although observed behaviour changes and physiological indicators will be used to assess pain, children of this age can also use some of the self-reporting pain assessment tools that health-care providers use to rate and qualify their pain. There are several types of self-report pain scales children may be asked to use to rate their pain intensity or how much it hurts. Some health-care professionals may use a zero-to-ten scale, where zero is no pain and ten is very severe pain; others rely on “faces scales” where the faces range from neutral to severe pain. Children of this age can indicate where their pain is on these scales.

Last updated: September 15th 2009