Pain assessment: development of a tool for the nurse and the patient



The assessment of pain is a difficult and yet vital component of nursing care. Discrepancies in the nursing management of pain can result from inadequate data collection and personal biases about the pain experienced by the patient. For example, how often is the patient with chronic pain consulted about personal remedies used at home to facilitate pain relief? Do nurses have preconceived ideas of how much pain should exist with each disease entity? A tool was developed which incorporated many of the variables affecting the pain response in order to sensitize nurses to the need for careful pain assessment. The information in this tool was conveyed to both graduate and student nurses resulting in improved charting of the patient's pain and improvement in the ability to assess the patient in pain.

Description of pain by the patient is often a frustrating experience and yet necessary in helping to determine the cause of the pain and the appropriate interventions. Patients often have difficulty describing their pain to health professionals. A ruler which includes the most frequently utilized terms to describe pain was developed, revised and tested on various patients. The patients interviewed found the tool easy to use and all felt they could communicate their sensation of pain to the nurse.