Two Vall d'Hebron research projects funded by the official college of nurses of Barcelona

The studies aim, one, to determine the level of humanization of pediatric ICUs in Catalonia, and, the other, to improve postoperative pain management of minor patients with cognitive disabilities.


Two investigations of the multidisciplinary nursing research group of the Vall d'Hebron Research Institute (VHIR), have been selected in the 2022 Call for Nursing Research Grants awarded by the Col-legi Oficial de Infermeres i Infermers de Barcelona (COIB). One of the grants has been for the study led by Javier Garcia, nurse and researcher, who aims to evaluate the level of humanization of all pediatric intensive care units (ICU) in Catalonia. Also selected was a project to improve the detection of postoperative pain in pediatric patients with cognitive disabilities that hinder their ability to express themselves orally. The nurse and scientist Débora Sierra leads this research, which will be carried out entirely at the Vall d'Hebron University Hospital.

In Catalonia there are five ICUs specializing in underage patients. They are located in the hospitals of Vall d'Hebron, Sant Joan de Déu in Barcelona, Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Parc Taulí in Sabadell, and Joan XXIII in Tarragona. All of them will participate in this project designed to humanize as much as possible the stay of children in these units. The first step will be to adapt the Manual of Good Practices in Humanization created by the HU-Ci project to the specific context of pediatric ICUs. This document will be used to analyze each unit with a double objective: to create a global report on the situation in Catalonia, and to give to each center the necessary information to create an individualized improvement plan.

The second project will focus on a particularly vulnerable group: children with cognitive disabilities who have just undergone surgery. The management of postoperative pain in children is already complex, but in patients who are non-verbal or who have very limited oral communication skills, as is the case of a significant portion of children with cognitive disabilities, the difficulty multiplies. For the proper treatment of pain, it is essential that health personnel have enough tools to adapt the procedures to the needs of this group. Currently, in Catalonia there is no standard protocol, which means that there may be significant differences between centers. The study will try to mitigate this deficit by translating and adapting the revised Face, Legs, Activity, Crying and Consolation Scale (r-FLACC), and then using it as the main element in a training course to be given to all Vall D’Hebron nursing staff involved in the care of this type of patient. Subsequently, the clinical impact of this intervention will be analyzed with the aim of extending the protocol to other healthcare centers. The final objective is to improve detection and, consequently, lessen the suffering of this group.

The COIB has allocated this year 65,000 € to promote quality nursing research. This amount will be distributed among the 13 winning projects of a call that has attracted almost 50 proposals.

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