Interactions between children, parents and nurses during postoperative pain management: A grounded theory study

Carolyn Mackintosh-Franklin, Ebru Bakir, Marie Marshall, Michelle Briggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To explore the interactions between children, parents and nurses during postoperative pain management.

Despite the growing evidence relating to postoperative pain management in children and relevant practice guidelines, children still experience moderate to severe pain after surgery. One factor could be related to the relatively unexplored child–parent–nurse interaction.

A qualitative constructivist grounded theory methodology.

Data were collected from a paediatric hospital in the United Kingdom. Ten children aged between 6 and 11 years old who had undergone surgery, 11 parents and 10 nurses participated. Methods included face-to-face semi-structured interviews. Data were analysed using constant comparison technique, memos and constructivist grounded theory coding levels. The COREQ guidelines were followed for reporting.

Three concepts emerged from data, “Parents as a communicator for child-nurse interaction”, “Parents’ emotional turmoil in child-nurse interaction”, and “Parents’ actions in child-nurse interaction” which constructed the substantive theory of child–parent–nurse interaction during postoperative pain management: “Facilitating or Inhibiting Interactions: Parental Influence on Postoperative Pain Management”. The findings highlight an absence of a three-way interaction between children, parents and nurses and a dyadic interaction process between children and nurses was not apparent. Instead, child–parent–nurse interactions were constructed around two dyads of child–parent and parent–nurse interactions with child–nurse interaction constructed via parents. Parents, as a communicator, influenced the entire postoperative pain management processes between children, parents and nurses by facilitating or inhibiting the interaction processes.

This study identifies potentially important evidence about the unique position parents hold between their child and nurses as a central pivotal communicator during children’s postoperative pain management.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2022


  • pain
  • children
  • nurse
  • parents
  • interactions


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