Use of pain scales and observational pain assessment tools in hospital settings
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Use of pain scales and observational pain assessment tools in hospital settings

Julie Gregory Clinical educator, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, Blackburn, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To recognise that pain is a subjective experience that can be challenging to assess and manage

  • To develop an awareness of the various pain assessment tools available

  • To understand how you can observe patient behaviours that may indicate pain

Pain is a personal, individual and subjective experience. The complex and dynamic nature of pain makes its assessment and management challenging for healthcare professionals. Various pain scales are available that can assist in identifying the patient’s experience of pain; however, these tend to reduce this experience to a measure of pain intensity. The use of pain scales also requires patients to communicate and describe their pain; when this is not possible, it is necessary for healthcare professionals to observe patient behaviours that may indicate pain. Various observational pain assessment tools have been developed to assist in recognising and assessing pain. This article discusses the various pain scales and observational pain assessment tools that are available, and the evidence to support their use.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2019.e11308

Peer review

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

Correspondence

Julie.Gregory@elht.nhs.uk

Conflict of interest

None declared

Gregory J (2019) Use of pain scales and observational pain assessment tools in hospital settings. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2019.e11308

Published online: 29 August 2019

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