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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 12-18

Pain assessment: Can a number meaningfully describe the pain experience?

Associate Professor, College of Nursing, CMC, Vellore, India

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Pain as the ‘fifth vital sign’ highlights the significance of pain assessment in patient care, but has often been found to be mechanistic and devoid of meaningful significance in clinical settings. Due to the complex nature of pain experience, nurses and doctors rarely depend on the patient self-report of Numerical Rating Scale (NRS) alone to initiate, modify, supplement or discontinue analgesia. Hence, there is a need to supplement the existing pain assessment using NRS with more clinically-relevant strategies in pain assessment. The article depicts the issues with using NRS and encourages nurses to use clinically meaningful pain assessment methods, citing an example of Clinically Alligned Pain Assessment tool (CAPA©), a new pain assessment tool.

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