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This study describes how assessment and documentation of children's acute postoperative pain is managed by nurses in university hospitals in Finland. A survey was conducted of 303 nurses working in children's wards of university-affiliated hospitals, and at the same time a retrospective chart review of 50 consecutive cases of operation of acute appendicitis was carried out. Charts were analyzed by content analysis, and the results of the survey are reported with percentage distribution and nonparametric statistical calculations. The results indicate that nurses assess pain mainly by observing the child's behavior and changes in physiology. Pain measurement instruments are rarely used, and nurses do not recognize them. The documentation of pain care is unsystematic and does not support the continuity of care. There is a clear need for development of assessment and documentation practices in the studied hospitals. Future research should look at the postoperative care of pain at home as well as care in non-university-affiliated hospitals.
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© 1999 W.B. Saunders Company. Published by Elsevier Inc.