Objective: To determine knowledge, perception and practices of healthcare professionals at tertiary level hospitals in Kingston, Jamaica, regarding neonatal pain management.
Design and Methods: Physicians and nurses actively involved in providing neonatal care at three tertiary level hospitals were invited to participate. A 21-item self-administered questionnaire was used to obtain information on knowledge, perception and practice of neonatal pain management. Descriptive analyses were performed.
Results: A total of 147 healthcare workers participated giving a response rate of 85%. Male to female ratio was 1: 4.4. Nurses accounted for 76 (52%) of the respondents while 70 (48%) were physicians. Seventy-three (50%) individuals were unaware of the degree of pain neonates were capable of experiencing and only 38 (27%) knew that premature infants were capable of feeling pain. One hundred and four (71%) respondents were able to identify physiological markers of pain and most respondents were able to discriminate between painful and non-painful procedures. However, 100 (68%) respondents rarely prescribed analgesia for procedures previously rated as painful. Seventy-one (51%) respondents admitted to not using analgesia for alleviating procedural pain in neonates. Twenty-five (18%) individuals thought that the procedure was too short to require analgesic support while 41 (30%) stated that medication was not usually prescribed for procedural pain. Physician scores were significantly higher than those attained by nurses for knowledge (p = 0.003) and for pain perception (p = 0.001) but no significant differences were noted for practice (p = 0.18).
Conclusion: There is an overwhelming deficiency in the knowledge, perception and practice of neonatal pain management at tertiary level institutions in Kingston, Jamaica. There is the urgent need for the education of health professionals on neonatal pain management. This will in turn facilitate change in perception and eventually, along with the institution of local policies and protocols, influence practice.