• nursing;
  • pain;
  • pain measurement;
  • prostatectomy;
  • recovery room

Aim.  This paper reports a study to assess the usability and use of different pain assessment tools and to compare patients’ and nurses’ pain assessments in the recovery room after prostatectomy.

Background.  Pain assessment is the first step towards providing adequate pain relief but poses problems because of the subjective nature of the pain experience and the lack of quantifiable measurements. Pain tools have been tested in several clinical settings, but not in the recovery room.

Methods.  Data were collected in the recovery room from 45 consecutive patients who had undergone prostatectomy by asking them to evaluate their pain intensity using visual analogue scale, numeric rating scale and verbal expressions. One of two research nurses measured patients’ pain at regular intervals and at the same time as the patients. Physiological parameters were also evaluated. Data were analysed as frequencies and percentages. Sum variables were formed and results were analysed using Spearman's rank correlation, Pearson's correlation and with multiple regression analysis.

Results.  Patients varied in their ability to assess the intensity of their pain using different tools, but assessments were correlated with each other and with nurses’ estimations. Nurses and patients obtained similar assessments, but nurses both underestimated and overestimated patients’ pain. Patients’ verbal assessments varied widely. Patients’ and nurses’ pain assessments showed no association with patients’ pulse or mean arterial blood pressure.

Conclusions.  According to our results, it is not totally clear whether pain tools are usable in the recovery room. This issue calls for further research.