BACKGROUND: Monitoring acute postoperative pain as the fifth vital sign is currently practiced in many developed countries. In Sarawak, pain is an important symptom as 70% of cancer patients present with advanced disease. As the existing validated pain assessment tools were found to be difficult to use, we studied the feasibility of modifying the use of a pain assessment tool, consisting of the short form of the Brief Pain Inventory and the Wong-Baker Faces Scale.
METHOD: This tool was used to document pain in all 169 patients who were admitted for pain control to the oncology ward between July 2000 and June 2001. Nurses were trained in the use of the modified scale before the start of the study.
RESULTS: The method was easy to use, and the mean number of days to reduce pain was found to be 3.1 days (SD: 2.9; median: 2 days; range: 1-31 days). At discharge, none in the group with initially mild pain had pain, and the severity of pain for 98% of patients with moderate pain and 61% with severe pain was downgraded to mild pain.
CONCLUSION: The staff found that the tool allowed continuous pain assessment in an objective manner.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.