Recognising and assessing acute pain
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Recognising and assessing acute pain

Carolyn Mackintosh-Franklin Senior lecturer, University of Manchester, Manchester, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To enhance your awareness of the barriers that may prevent you from recognising acute pain in patients

  • To recognise how you can overcome the barriers that prevent the recognition of pain

  • To understand the components of a comprehensive pain assessment

This article considers two areas of practice that are fundamental to the provision of high-quality nursing care for people experiencing acute pain: the initial recognition of pain, and the formal assessment of pain. The initial recognition of a patient’s pain is a subject that is frequently overlooked in the literature. However, if nurses are unable to identify that a patient is experiencing pain, then a formal pain assessment may not take place, which in turn negatively affects the quality of any subsequent pain management. This article explores some of the barriers to the initial recognition of pain and examines how a formal pain assessment can support optimal patient care.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2020.e11501

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

Mackintosh-Franklin C (2020) Recognising and assessing acute pain. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2020.e11501

Published online: 03 December 2020

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