Aims and objectives. To (1) examine the clinical applicability of compiled mode and maximum values from the Numeric Rating Scale (NRS) by comparing the correspondence between patient perceptions of pain and pain values from monitoring records, as well as (2) to study the relationship between mode and maximum values and self-assessed ability for early postoperative recovery.
Background. Documentation of pain remains a problem despite recommendations of quality improvements. To examine the correlation between patient perceptions and documented pain therefore becomes important. Few have studied how pain affects recovery.
Design. A quantitative cross-sectional design was used in which 157 postoperative patients answered a questionnaire on pain intensity and recovery. A parallel examination of pain in monitoring records was conducted.
Results. A total of 57% had a mode value calculated from records between 0 and 3 on postoperative day 1 and 69% on day 2. A maximum value between 4 and 10 was found in monitoring records for 73% on day 1 and for 67% on day 2. The correspondence between mode value from monitoring records and the patients’ retrospective perceptions was 88% for NRS 0–3 and 92% between maximum value and NRS 4–10. The correlation between documented pain and retrospectively identified pain for mode value of the NRS in all (0–10) was rather weak (r = 0·37), while maximum value had a stronger correlation (r = 0·53).
Conclusion. Mode and maximum values could be used as outcome measures when evaluating postoperative pain. Pain affects recovery negatively, but more research is needed to strengthen the evidence for the use and clarify the link between pain and recovery.
Relevance to clinical practice. International organisations emphasise the importance of improving pain assessment. Mode and maximum values are easy to compile for nurses and can, together with assessments of how experienced pain levels affect postoperative recovery, improve treatment of postoperative pain.