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Pain Research and Management
Volume 16, Issue 4, Pages 228-233
Original Article

Examining Nurse Empathy for Infant Procedural Pain: Testing a New Video Measure

Margot Latimer,1 Philip Jackson,2 Celeste Johnston,3 and Jocelyn Vine4

1School of Nursing, Dalhousie University, Centre for Pediatric Pain Research, IWK Health Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
2École de psychologie, Faculté des Sciences Sociales, Université Laval, CIRRIS and CRULRG Research Centres, Laval, Canada
3School of Nursing, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
4IWK Health Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Copyright © 2011 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Research reporting effective pain care strategies exists, yet it is not translated to care. Little is known about how repeated pain exposure has affected nurses’ ability to be empathetic and use their knowledge to provide evidence-based care. Concerns have been raised regarding the validity of self-report empathy instruments; therefore, a novel video program was developed for testing. It was hypothesized that those who viewed infants in painful and nonpainful states would have a measureable empathy (pain rating) response correlating to the level of pain expressed by the infants.

OBJECTIVE: To validate the newly developed Empathy for Infant Pain video program (EIPvp) by determining whether nurse and non-nurse control groups’ pain scores of 24 video clips showing infants undergoing real medical procedures were equal.

DESIGN: A descriptive cross-sectional video judgement study.

METHODS: Fifty female participants (25 nurses and 25 allied health controls) were asked to score the infant procedural pain level displayed in the EIPvp using a visual analogue scale and a composite score of known infant pain cues. Participants also scored their own sensitivity to painful events.

RESULTS: Participants rated the videos contained in the EIPvp similarly in three categories (no, low or high pain); however, there were consistent differences between groups within the categories. Nurses scored facial cues for all categories higher than the control group. Nurses scored their own pain in hypothetical situations and that of the infants consistently higher than the control group.

CONCLUSION: The EIPvp yielded predictable responses from both the nurse and non-nurse control groups when scoring the pain expressed in the video clips. Nurses’ detection of pain more often than controls may have been an indication that they have greater knowledge of pain cues, or their empathy levels may have been different as a result of their exposure to, or their perceived relationship with, patients. The EIPvp was validated and has promising potential for training and research purposes.