Impact of children's sickle cell history on nurse and physician ratings of pain and medication decisions

F. Daniel Armstrong, Charles H. Pegelow, Juan C. Gonzalez, Alfonzo Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The process of assessing and treating recurrent and unpredictable pain in children with sickle cell disease (SCD) is complex. A conceptual model is presented to aid in understanding the influence of mediating factors such as professional knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about pain, and learning history on the interpretation of objective data and resulting treatment decision. One aspect of this model, the effect of disease history on pain assessment and treatment decisions, is tested in an experimental study of SCD pain in children. Results suggest that nurses, but not pediatric residents, provide lower doses of narcotic analgesics to children with histories of frequent, as opposed to occasional, hospitalization for pain, although they do not differ in their ratings of the pain of children with these histories. Neither professional experience and training nor reported attitudes and beliefs about pain in children are related to this pattern of decision making. Results are discussed in terms of the aversive impact of repeated exposure to a noxious stimulus (pain behaviors) on caregiver interpretation of pain cues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-664
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of pediatric psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1992


  • Decision making
  • Nurses
  • Pain
  • Pediatrics
  • Physicians
  • Sickle cell disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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