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Pain in Children With Central Nervous System Cancer: A Review of the Literature

Erin Shepherd
Roberta L. Woodgate
Jo-Ann Sawatzky
ONF 2010, 37(4), E318-E330 DOI: 10.1188/10.ONF.E318-E330

Purpose/Objectives: To explore the current state of the science regarding pain in children with cancer, with special attention to literature related to central nervous system (CNS) tumors. This review used the Human Response to Illness (HRTI) model as an organizing framework.

Data Sources: PubMed, CINAHL®, and Scopus™ data-bases.

Data Synthesis: The literature review is presented with the four components of the HRTI model, including the physiologic, pathophysiologic, experiential, and behavioral perspectives of the pain response related to childhood cancer and childhood CNS cancer. The person and environmental factors that may influence a child's pain response are described.

Conclusions: Children with cancer, including CNS cancer, continue to experience pain despite the improvements in knowledge related to pain. Pain assessment and management strategies must continue to evolve and improve for nursing professionals to provide a high level of care to this patient population. The HRTI model provides an appropriate framework to gain insight into the pediatric oncology nursing role in the assessment, management, and evaluation of pain from childhood cancers.

Implications for Nursing: Nurses play a vital role in pain assessment and management for children with cancer. The HRTI model can be used to identify areas of clinical practice, education, and research that require further improvements in relation to pain in children with CNS cancer.

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