Few studies have examined the influence of ethnic-cultural variables on pain perception and behavioural distress in children. Not considering possible cultural variations of pain manifestation may lead to inadequate assessment and treatment of pain.
Goal To evaluate wether differences exist between Italian and non-Italian children with regards to pain perception and behavioural distress during the same invasive procedure.
Methods Cross-sectional analytical trial. A group of Italian children (group A) and a group of Chinese children (group B) aged 3 to 11 were observed during a standardized venipuncture for blood sample drawing. Pain was self-rated with a 1–10 Wong faces scale or a 1–10 numeric scale. Behavioural distress was measured with the Observational Behaviour Distress Scale (OBDS, 1–33).
Results 246 children were examined, 191 in group A and 55 in group B. In preschool age (3 to 5, n=76), neither mean pain rates nor mean OBDS rates were statistically different in the two groups. On the opposite, in the 6–11 age (n=170), mean pain rate was 2.9 in group A and 4.8 in group B (Anova p=0.00001) while mean OBDS rate was 6.6 in group A and 2.3 in group Bi (Anova p=0.0005).
Discussion Our data show that duiring venipuncture Chinese children have less marked behavioural distress manifestations than their Italian peers, even though the perceived pain is higher in Chinese children.