9a_Book Cover_Oxford Textbook of Paediatric Pain Oxford Textbook of Paediatric Pain.  Eds P.J. McGrath, B.J. Stevens, S.M. Walker, W.T. Zempsky;  Oxford University Press, 2014; $338.95.  687pages. 225mmx280mm.

ISBN: 9780199642656.

I was pleased to be able to review a textbook I had long been looking forward to reading – The Oxford Textbook of Paediatric Pain.

The book boldly proclaims it will become the standard reference text in assessment and treatment of patients and families with paediatric pain.  The editors are to be highly commended for drawing together over 120 international contributors.

The first edition of this much-anticipated textbook is divided into nine sections, with each section having several chapters.  Each of the 65 evidence-based chapters begins with a summary, followed by an introduction, body of information, and clinical case examples.  Some chapters have stated aims, and most chapters have a conclusion.  All chapters have extensive references.

A highlight of this book is the many case examples.  For the newcomer, reading through the case examples at the end of each chapter provides a rapid overview of the complexity of cases in paediatric pain.  The challenges posed in the case examples invite the reader to explore the relevant chapter.

For the experienced clinician, this book will be an excellent reference, particularly the chapters on pain in specific populations and diseases.  The introductory section on the history, demographics and neurobiology of paediatric pain is superb, probably the best in any paediatric pain text to date.  There are also comprehensive sections on pain assessment, social and psychological aspects to pain, and physical, psychosocial and pharmacological interventions, as well as ‘special topics’.

From a personal point of view, the more pain medicine I do, the more I am convinced the therapeutic effect of what we do in pain management is maximised by inter-disciplinary care.  One Printof the challenges of a pain textbook is conveying this team approach whilst still dividing the topics!  Luckily, chapter 62 “Organisational systems in paediatric pain” addresses this topic, albeit towards the end of the book.

Purchasing the textbook also includes complimentary 12-month online access.  As well as the online textbook, this allows access to supplementary online materials, including posters of pain scales and algorithms of treatment of neuropathic pain.  Although the current supplementary list is relatively small, it would be expected to grow in future editions.

The strength of this book is the wide range of international experience of its contributors, with almost all areas of paediatric pain extensively addressed in an evidence-based way.  The few areas lacking extensive discussion are often due to a lack of published evidence, not a lack of effort on the authors’ part! I would have appreciated more critique by the authors regarding these areas lacking evidence.  Often, the authors have done well to utilise evidence from adult pain studies and include it as part of the textbook in areas which have limited paediatric-specific evidence (e.g.s information technology and pain).  I look forward to accumulation of evidence in future editions.

There are other cheaper, more practical “how-to” books on paediatric pain, but this textbook brings together the latest evidence presented by experts across all the domains of acute, chronic, cancer and procedural pain.

Despite the limitations of a first edition, I have to agree with the authors.  This textbook will justifiably become the reference textbook for health professionals involved in managing children with pain.69_Photo_Jordan Wood-21-225x300

Dr Jordan Wood


Jordon is Staff Specialist, Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine, at The Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, NSW. He is also a conjoint Associate Lecturer at The University of New South Wales. Dr Wood’s research interests include paediatric pain and decision making in multidisciplinary care.

Conflicts of interest: none declared.

About Australian Pain Society

The Australian Pain Society is a multidisciplinary body aiming to relieve pain and related suffering through leadership in clinical practice, education, research and public advocacy.


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