B. Burrill1, S. Rastogi2

1Sheffield Children’s NHS FT, UK

2Great North Children’s Hospital, Newcastle Hospitals NHS FT, UK


Pain in children is common, often under-recognised and under-treated(1). If poorly managed it can have significant long-term consequences in later life including impact on mood, sleep and chronic pain in adulthood(2). Chronic pain is a significant burden on health care systems globally and is the leading cause of morbidity in children, with studies suggesting that between one-quarter and one-third of children experience chronic pain(3). In the UK there is a national unmet need for anaesthetists with an interest in paediatric pain and therefore we set out to explore anaesthetic trainees' awareness and interest in this sub-speciality.  We hoped to understand any potential barriers they may see to pursuing this career choice and how we may begin to address them.


An on-line survey was sent to anaesthetic trainees across the UK through the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCOA) college tutors at their base hospital. The survey included questions on the trainee’s current stage of training, their awareness of paediatric pain as a sub-speciality and if they have an interest in pursuing it in their future career. They were invited to indicate why or why they were not interested and what may be done to encourage more interest.


One hundred and seventy-one anaesthetic trainees completed the survey from across England and Scotland, no responses were received from Wales or Northern Ireland. These represented trainees at each stage of training of the 2021 RCOA Anaesthetic Curriculum: 29% stage 1, 40% stage 2 and 31% stage 3. Fifty-six percent indicated they were not aware of paediatric pain as a sub-speciality, with 23% reporting an interest in pursuing paediatric pain, acute and/or chronic, in their future career. The top 3 reasons for wanting to do paediatric pain were: variety in job plan e.g. clinics, ward rounds, theatre (34%), regional/interventional opportunities (38%) and the increasing demand (28%). The top 3 reasons trainees were not interested were: other career aspiration (67%), not knowing enough about the sub-speciality (43%) and the complex patient/family groups (34%). The best way trainees felt to increasing interest in the sub-speciality was through local teaching sessions (68%) and greater clarity and information on career progression (68%).


The results revealed the majority of trainees surveyed were unaware of paediatric pain as a sub-speciality. It is positive nearly 1 in 4 anaesthetic trainees are considering a career involving paediatric pain. However, given that there are generally few paediatric pain consultants across the UK there appears to be gap between trainee interest and practicing consultant. Increasing awareness of the speciality needs to be targeted. We plan to do this through an online educational seminar providing information on what paediatric pain has to offer, training requirements needed and career progression opportunities for trainees.


  1. International Association for the Study of Pain. Fact Sheet; Pain in Children: Management. 2019.
  2. K McCarthy and S Rastogi. Complex pain in children and young people: part I- assessment. BJA Education, 17 (10): 317–322 (2017)
  3. World Health Organisation. Guideline on the management of chronic pain in children. 2020.
Scroll to top