The Relationship of Reported Pain Severity to Perceived Effect on Function of Nursing Home Residents
Published in: The Journals of Gerontology, v. 63, no. 9, Sep. 2008, p. 969-973
Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2007
BACKGROUND: The authors examined whether questions addressing the effect of pain on day-to-day function add unique information to the standardized verbal descriptor scale for pain severity in nursing homes (NHs). METHODS: Interviews were conducted with 123 residents in two Veterans Affairs NHs. All participants were asked about pain presence. Residents reporting pain were asked about severity of worst pain (mild, moderate, severe, very severe/horrible), degree of bother (not at all, a little, a moderate amount, a great deal), and the effect of pain on daily function (whether pain made it hard to sleep, get out of bed, or spend time with other people and whether activities were limited because of pain). RESULTS: Fifty-one percent of participants reported pain. The correlation between pain severity report and overall count of activity interference was significant (Spearman's rho =.449, p =.001). In general, for each activity, the proportion reporting interference increased as severity increased. Fischer's exact test showed significant association only for hard to get out of bed (p =.0175) and hard to sleep (p =.0211). As expected, residents reporting mild pain reported less activity interference than those reporting very severe pain. The association between pain and activity interference was more variable and less predictable among residents with moderate or severe pain. CONCLUSION: Questions addressing the effect of pain on day-to-day functions are an important addition to standardized pain assessments, particularly for persons who report intermediate levels of pain severity because the perceived effect on daily function may vary most among individuals at these levels.