Pain management in intellectually disabled children: a survey of perceptions and current practices among Dutch anesthesiologists

Paediatric Anaesthesia, 04/20/2012

Anesthesiologists in the Netherlands take a different approach when caring for intellectually disabled children and they were not aware of pain observation scales for these children. However, the majority think that intellectually disabled children are not more sensitive to pain or require more analgesia. These opinions did not change over the 4–year period. One way to proceed is to implement validated pain assessment tools and to invest in education.


  • Authors surveyed members of the Section on Pediatric Anesthesiology of the Netherlands Society of Anesthesiology in 2005 and 2009, using a self-designed questionnaire.


  • The response rate was 47% in both years. In 2005, 32% of the anesthesiologists rated intellectually disabled children as ‘more sensitive to pain’ than nonintellectually disabled children-vs 25% in 2009.
  • But no more than 7% in 2005 vs 6% in 2009 agreed with the statement ‘children with intellectually disabled children need more analgesia’.
  • Most anesthesiologists gave similar doses of intraoperative opioids for intellectually disabled and nonintellectually disabled children, 92% in 2005 vs 89% in 2009.
  • In 2005, only 3% applied a pain assessment tool validated for intellectually disabled children, vs 4% in 2009.

Print Article Summary Cat 2 CME Report