Over 85% of children experience significant pain after surgery. Despite this presence of pain, research suggests that a quarter of these children receive very little or even no pain medication at home. Such poor pain management in children can have harmful long-term consequences, both physically and psychologically. Previous research indicates that the amount of pain medication administered to children in the home may be significantly impacted by beliefs and attitudes parents have regarding analgesics. Given this, the purpose of the present study is to identify which demographic factors are associated with certain parent analgesic attitudes or misconceptions among pediatric patients ages 2-13 who have undergone elective surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (N = 112). Prior to surgery, parents completed surveys to report demographics and medication attitudes—fear of side effects, avoidance, and appropriate use attitude. Ethnicity was found to interact with child sex to predict parents’ fear of side effects, b = -4.750, p = 0.043. Specifically, among Hispanic households, parents of daughters expressed a greater fear of side effects from analgesics compared to parents of sons. The opposite trend was seen in White households, such that parents of sons expressed a greater fear of side effects compared to parents of daughters. This sex difference in Hispanic families may be due to the phenomenon machismo, a term characterized by the hypermasculine idealization of men. Specifically, Hispanic parents may express a significantly lower fear of side effects for their male children because they are encouraging their sons to be more stoic and “tough.” The hypermasculinity principles behind machismo, however, may not significantly transcend across other ethnic groups, as showcased by the opposite trend observed in White parents. These findings can be utilized to develop interventions that specifically target and educate parents who are likely to have misconceptions concerning analgesic use while still respecting the family’s culture, values, and practices.
Luong, Vivian; Venkatesh, Harshitha V.; Fortier, Michelle; Kain, Zeev N.; and Jenkins, Brooke N., "Pediatric Postoperative Pain Medication: Child Sex and Ethnicity Interact to Predict Parent Medication Attitudes" (2020). Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters. 402.