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If you know kids, you know they are accident magnets; From falling off swings, to jumping to high and hitting their heads, all children will experience some form of pain. But, did you know that one in five Canadian children experience chronic pain before they reach adulthood?

These children are more prone to suffering from mental illnesses and substance abuse and often experience more socioeconomic disparities in their lifetime. Children’s pain has been treated differently for decades, including most hospitalized kids undergoing painful procedures without any pain management. Although Canada is a research leader in pediatric pain, the challenge is ensuring that the incredible knowledge that is gained is transferred to those who are treating kids on the ground, in hospitals and health care facilities across the country.

That challenge is now being met with a real solution. On April 3rd, 2023, Dalhousie-based Solutions for Kids in Pain (SKIP) and the Health Standards Organization (HSO) announced the country’s first national Pediatric Pain Management Standard—a set of guidelines for the delivery of pain management for children from birth to 19 years. The Standard delivers clear guidance to health care organizations across Canada on how to deliver quality pain management for children.

The first of its kind, the Pediatric Pain Management Standard outlines 34 recommendations on how to provide equitable, evidence-informed, and person-centered pain care and supports. It recognizes that children and families are equal members of the health care team and encourages active participation in decision-making about their pain care.

These best practices were developed by SKIP through a working group of experts and specialists in patient and family partnership, health policy, hospital administration, medicine, psychology, nursing, physical therapy, and child life from across the globe.

SKIP’s vision is healthier Canadians through better pain management for children and Dr. Christine Chambers, SKIP’s Scientific Director and Dalhousie Alum and Faculty member, has been interested in solving children’s pain since she was a student. For her entire career, Dr. Chambers has had a goal of mobilizing best practices and putting practical pain management tools in place for children in hospital settings.

With the launch of the Pediatric Pain Management Standard, SKIP is closer than ever to navigating this obstacle. “For years, SKIP has been building partnerships, doing stakeholder outreach, developing regional hubs to grow and implement the research, and a critically important piece of the puzzle—working on attaining research funding,” says Dr. Chambers. “We are so grateful to benefit from local philanthropy like Dalhousie’s Molly Appeal that has helped us move toward practical impact.”

In 2021, the Spring Molly Appeal campaign raised over $100,000 toward advancing equitable access to evidence-based pain management for children through SKIP. The continued generosity of donors is vital to allow the SKIP team to move forward towards inclusive, innovative, and unique ways that will change how children’s pain is treated, as there is more work to be done before children no longer have to endure unnecessary pain.

The pediatric pain management framework is an incredibly significant achievement for Dr. Chambers and the SKIP team who are dedicated to ensuring all Canadian children have access to consistent pain care and supports.

Learn more about the Pediatric Pain Management Standard here.