Identifying the content and context of pain within paediatric rheumatology healthcare professional curricula in the UK: a summative content analysis

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Background: The curriculum for professionals working in paediatric rheumatology should include pain but it is unclear to what extent this currently occurs. The aim of this study was to identify pain-related curriculum content and the context in which pain is presented in educational and training documentation for healthcare professionals in this clinical speciality. Methods: Core curricula documents from UK based professional organisations were identified in partnership with healthcare professionals. Documents were analysed using a summative content analysis approach. Key pain terms were quantified and weighted frequencies were used to explore narrative pain themes. Latent content was interpreted qualitatively to explore the context within which pain terms were positioned. Results: Nine curriculum documents were identified and analysed from doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists specialising in paediatric rheumatology. Pain themes represented a mean percentage of 1.51% of text across all documents. Pain was rarely presented in the context of both inflammatory and non-inflammatory condition types despite being a common feature of each. Musculoskeletal pain was portrayed simply as a ‘somatic’ symptom, rather than as a complex phenomenon involving biological and psychosocial processes. Content around the assessment and management of pain was vague and inexplicit. Conclusion: Current educational and training documentation in paediatric rheumatology do not include core pain topics. Curricula for these healthcare professionals would benefit from updates in contemporary pain theories and examples of in-context, evidence-based pain practices. This should be a priority starting point for optimising patient pain care in paediatric musculoskeletal healthcare.

Original languageEnglish
Article number129
JournalPediatric Rheumatology
Issue number1
Early online date21 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Assessment
  • Communication
  • Competencies
  • Curricula
  • Healthcare professionals
  • Management
  • Paediatric rheumatology
  • Pain
  • Training


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