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Call for Overhaul in Services for Children with Chronic Pain

Two children playing, one with mother. Chronic Pain in children and families.

The University of Stirling recently published an article setting out the challenges faced by families where a diagnosis of chronic pain has been made involving a child. Health researchers are now calling for an overhaul in services for children suffering from chronic pain.

Impacts of the Children’s Chronic Pain Study

A recent study led by Dr. Emma France has brought to attention the significant public health issue surrounding chronic pain in children. Dr. France emphasizes that this study marks the first comprehensive review of existing research on chronic pain experiences and services for children. The findings reveal alarming insights into the profound effects of chronic pain on families.

According to Dr. France, the impact of moderate to severe chronic pain extends beyond the affected child, affecting various aspects of family life. From hindering parents and carers' ability to maintain paid employment to impacting siblings' well-being and the educational and career prospects of the child in pain, the repercussions are substantial. Disturbingly, many families find themselves left to cope with chronic pain independently, with limited support from healthcare services.

Mother on the phone comforting ill child on a sofa. Child chronic pain support.

Family Support Services Overhaul

The study underscores the urgent need for a fully integrated approach to chronic pain management, one that addresses the needs of the entire family, not just the child. Dr. France emphasizes that the current healthcare system falls short in providing comprehensive care for children with chronic pain.

One particularly poignant insight comes from the mother of a 16-year-old who has lived with chronic pain for four years. She highlights the prevalent trauma response among families due to negative experiences with medical professionals. However, participating in the study provided her with a sense of validation and acceptance, as she felt heard and believed for the first time.

In response to these findings, the researchers have put forth recommendations for primary care services and policymakers. They advocate for the development of a new model of care that encompasses support for the entire family. This model would integrate healthcare services with other support services from schools, charities, and other organizations to address the biological, psychological, and social aspects of children's chronic pain.

Further Information 

The research, titled 'Managing children’s chronic non-cancer pain better (CHAMPION study)', involved collaboration among experts from Stirling’s Nursing Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit (NMAHP-RU), the Institute of Social Marketing and Health, University of Bath, and Bangor University.

For those interested in delving deeper into the study, additional information can be found on the Cochrane Library website. This study serves as a wake-up call, highlighting the urgent need for improved support and services for children suffering from chronic pain and their families.


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