C. Meghan McMurtry | Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies

C. Meghan McMurtry

Summary: 

My ultimate goal is to improve understanding of the complex interplay of factors that impact children’s pain and health to identify best practices for intervention.

Program

Psychology 

About my research…

My ultimate goal is to improve understanding of the complex interplay of factors that impact children’s pain and health to identify best practices for intervention. In my Pediatric Pain, Health, and Communication (PPHC) Lab, we study pain from medical procedures as well as chronic pain.

1) Did you know that 2/3 children and 1/4 of adults are afraid of needles? Those with an extreme fear of needles (5-10% of the population) may refuse to engage in preventative, diagnostic, or interventional healthcare. Much of our work focuses on pain and fear in the context of needle procedures (e.g., vaccinations, venipunctures). These procedures are common throughout the lifespan in both healthy individuals and those with chronic illnesses. Pain from needle procedures has been deemed an adverse event and is clearly associated with negative short and long-term consequences; however, as accompanying fear is often ignored, our understanding is incomplete.

2) Did you know that at ~$6 billion per year, chronic pain in Canada costs more than heart disease, HIV, and cancer combined? Approximately 20% of adolescents experience chronic pain (e.g., abdominal pain, headaches). Ongoing research within the PPHC Lab and with collaborating children's hospitals examines positive psychological factors (e.g., pain self-efficacy) to understand how to improve quality of life for youth with pain.

How my Research Improves Life…

In the Pediatric Pain, Health and Communication Lab, we focus on creating the knowledge needed to understand pediatric pain and fear (e.g., how should we measure fear? how should parents behave when their children are in pain to be most helpful?), review and synthesize this information, and engage in knowledge translation so that the findings are used in practice. For example, I am part of the national Help Eliminate Pain in Kids & Adults Team and led the group on a clinical practice guideline for the management of needle fear.