BACKGROUND: Pain in children and adolescents with cancer has been identified as an area where many healthcare professionals seek guidance. This protocol details a systematic review whose aim is to explore current knowledge regarding measurement instruments to assess pain (and pain-related distress) in children and adolescents with cancer. After completion of the review, the information will be used in the development of a clinical practice guideline.
METHODS: We will search four electronic databases (MEDLINE via PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO and HaPI). Additional relevant studies will be identified by reference checking and expert consultation. All citations will be screened independently by two reviewers in a three-step approach: first selection based on title, second selection based on abstract, third selection based on full-text. Studies in children and adolescents with cancer that aimed to evaluate the clinimetric properties of an existing pain measurement instrument or to develop a new pain measurement instrument and that include at least one relevant outcome (reliability, validity, responsiveness, interpretability, clinical utility) are eligible for inclusion. For all steps of evidence selection, a detailed list with eligibility criteria will be determined a priori. Data extraction and quality assessment of included studies (according to the COnsensus-based Standards for the selection of health Measurement INstruments, COSMIN criteria) will be conducted independently by two authors.
DISCUSSION: This systematic review will provide an overview of the current literature regarding measurement instruments to assess pain in children and adolescents with cancer. This knowledge synthesis will be used to formulate recommendations for clinical practice. Also, by synthesizing existing evidence, knowledge gaps will be identified.
SYSTEMATIC REVIEW REGISTRATION: PROSPERO CRD42017072879.