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Denise Harrison photo of dr denise harrison
Scientist, CHEO Research Institute
Chair in Nursing Care of Children, Youth and Families, CHEO
Full Professor, University of Ottawa, School of Nursing
Affiliate Investigator, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Clinical Epidemiology
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute; Honorary Research Fellow
The University of Melbourne; Honorary Senior Fellow
613-737-7600 Ext. 4140
Research Practice Areas:
Current Research:
Dr. Harrison’s program of research, called “Be Sweet to Babies”, focuses on pain management in neonates, infants and children. Her studies include efficacy, effectiveness, safety and utilization of sucrose in diverse neonatal, infant and child populations; systematic reviews of sucrose for pain management; pain prevalence in diverse clinical settings; pain management in NICUs and community settings during immunization; knowledge translation; and ethics of conducting clinical trials in vulnerable patient populations.
Research Team:
  • Juliana Choueiry - BScN Student
  • Diane Crellin - PhD Student
  • Jiale Hu - PhD Student
  • Catherine Larocque - MScN Student
  • Kelli Mayhew - MScN Student
  • Shokoufeh Modanloo - PhD Student (Grad Student)
  • Imane Ouach - BScN Student
  • Jennifer Peters - MScN Student
  • Victoria Suwalska - BScN Student
  • Jodi Wilding - Research Corrdinator

Dr. Harrison’s research began as a single clinical question: “How can we reduce pain during painful procedures in sick babies?” This question arose from working for many years in neonatal intensive care. Dr. Harrison completed a PhD in Melbourne, Australia and a post-doctoral research fellowship in Toronto. She has published more than 80 papers and delivered over 250 presentations focusing on pain management in infants and children. Dr. Harrison’s program of research focuses on effectiveness and knowledge translation of pain management strategies in children, from sick newborn infants up to school-aged children.

Sample Publications:
Ouach I, Reszel J, Patel Y, Tibbles J, Ullyot N, Wilding J, Harrison D. Children’s pain and distress at a public influenza vaccination clinic: A parent survey and public observation study. Journal of Community Health. 2019; 44(2):322–331. doi: 10.1007/s10900-018-0590-1.

Lavin Venegas C, Taljaard M, Reszel J, Dunn S, Graham ID, Harrold J, Larocque C, Nicholls B, Nicholls S, O’Flaherty P, Squires J, Stevens B, Trépanier MJ, Harrison D. A parent-targeted and mediated video intervention to improve uptake of pain treatment for infants during newborn screening: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing. 2019; 33(1): 74–81. doi: 10.1097/JPN.0000000000000386

Harrison D, Modanloo S, Desrosiers A, Poliquin L, Bueno M, Reszel J, Sampson M. A systematic review of YouTube videos on pain management during newborn blood tests. Journal of Neonatal Nursing. 2018;24(6):325-330.

Harrison D, Zhou Y, McArthur L. Effectiveness of parents and clinicians working together to improve pain management in newborns. CMAJ. 2018; 190 (Suppl) S26-S27. doi:

Stevens B, Yamada J, Campbell-Yeo M, Gibbins S, Harrison D, Dionne K, Taddio A, McNair C, Willan A, Ballantyne M, Widger K, Sidani S, Estabrooks C, Synnes A, Squires J, Victor C, Riahi S. (2018). The minimally effective dose of sucrose for procedural pain relief in neonates: A randomized control trial. BMC Pediatrics. 2018; 18(85).

Harrison D, Larocque C, Reszel J, Harrold J, Aubertin C. Be Sweet to Babies during Painful Procedures: A pilot evaluation of a parent-targeted video. Advances in Neonatal Care. 2017; 17(5):372-380. doi: 10.1097/ANC.0000000000000425.

Harrison D, Reszel J, Dagg B, Aubertin C, Bueno M, Dunn S, Fuller A, Harrold J, Larocque C, Nicholls S, Sampson M. Pain management during newborn screening – Using YouTube to disseminate effective pain management strategies. Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing. 2017; 31(2):172-177. doi: 10.1097/JPN.0000000000000255

Harrison D, Larocque C, Bueno M, Stokes Y, Turner L, Hutton B, Stevens B. Sweet Solutions to Reduce Procedural Pain in Neonates: A Meta-Analysis. Pediatrics. 2017; 139(1): pii: e20160955. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-0955

Chen SL, Harrison D, Huang RR, Zhang Q, Xie RH, Wen SW. Efficacy of sweet solutions in relieving pain caused by vaccination in infants aged 1 to 12 months: a systematic review. Chinese Journal of Contemporary Pediatrics. 2016; 18(6):534-540

Harrison D, Wilding J, Bowman A, Fuller A, Nicholls SG, Pound CM, Reszel J, Sampson M. Using YouTube to Disseminate Effective Vaccination Pain Treatment for Babies. PLoS One 2016; 11(10):e0164123.

Harrison D, Reszel J, Bueno M, Sampson M, Shah VS, Taddio A, Larocque C, Turner L. Breastfeeding for procedural pain in infants beyond the neonatal period. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016; 10:CD011248.

Crellin D, Harrison D, Santamaria N, Babl FE. Systematic Review of the FLACC scale for assessing pain in infants and children: is it reliable, valid and feasible for use? PAIN. 2015; 156(11): 2132-2151.

Harrison D, Reszel J, Wilding J, Abdulla K, Bueno M, Campbell-Yeo M, Harrold J, Nicholls S, Squires J, Stevens B. Neuroprotective Core Measure 5: Minimizing Stress and Pain - Neonatal pain management practices during heel lance and venipuncture in Ontario, Canada. Newborn and Infant Nursing Reviews. 2015; 15:116-123.

Harrison D, Reszel J, Barrowman N, Martelli B, Sharp D, Vaillancourt R. Be Sweet to Toddlers during needles: Pilot RCT of sucrose compared to placebo. Nursing Reports. 2015; 15(1):19-21. doi: 10.4081/nursrep.2015.5218.

Harrison D, Yamada J, Adams-Webber T, Ohlsson A, Beyene J, Stevens B. Sweet-tasting solutions for needle-related procedural pain in children aged one to 16 years. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2015; Issue 5. Art No: CD008408 doi: 10.1002/14651858. CD008408.pub3.

Desrosiers A, Harrison D, Letham A. Use of facial expression for pain assessment in infants during acute painful procedures. Pediatric Pain Letter. 2015; 17(1): 5-8

Harrison D, Bueno M, Reszel J. Prevention and management of pain and stress in the neonate. Research and Reports in Neonatalogy. 2015;5:9-16.

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