Recognising the importance of language in effective pain assessment
Intended for healthcare professionals

Recognising the importance of language in effective pain assessment

Meriel Swann Clinical Educator, Healthcare at Home, Burton-on-Trent, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To understand the role of language in pain assessment

  • To recognise the difference between pain, discomfort and comfort

  • To count towards revalidation as part of your 35 hours of CPD, or you may wish to write a reflective account (UK readers)

  • To contribute towards your professional development and local registration renewal requirements (non-UK readers)

Pain is a highly personal experience that can be challenging to define. In addition, evidence has indicated that the assessment of pain by healthcare professionals is often suboptimal and its severity often underestimated. In clinical practice, the use of language can be a significant influencing factor in the effective management of pain, with terms such as pain, discomfort and comfort used interchangeably. This article explores how language can both act as a barrier to, and assist, nurses to understand the patient’s pain experience.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2021.e11563

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software


Conflict of interest

None declared

Swann M (2021) Recognising the importance of language in effective pain assessment. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2021.e11563

Published online: 18 January 2021

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