The Pediatric Pain, Health and Communication Lab (PPHC) focuses on research of children’s experience of pain and the behaviour of parents while their children are in pain, especially during medical procedures. When children’s pain isn’t managed properly during procedures such as immunizations, venipunctures, bone marrow aspirations, and lumbar punctures, it can have both short and long-term consequences.
Within the framework of pediatric (child health) psychology, Dr. McMurtry’s research and the work at the PPHC Lab seeks to address the experience of pain in children by learning more about the communication context of pain and the interaction of pain with other factors such as fear. Learning more about these factors will help to develop interventions designed to make painful medical experiences less distressing for children. As a part of typical development, children undergo numerous painful needle procedures such as immunizations (e.g., over 20 needles before the age of 18 years), and children with chronic illness such as diabetes or cancer have to endure many more. Children have reported getting a needle to be one of their most feared and painful experiences, and if their pain is not properly managed, it can lead to serious short- and long-term consequences. Since greater distress during painful medical procedures in childhood has been linked to avoidance of medical care as an adult (which can lead to severe medical conditions if the individual refuses to seek treatment), as well as the development of needle phobias, we feel that the research conducted at the PPHC Lab is of great importance.