Multidimensional Pain Assessment Tools for Ambulatory and Inpatient Nursing Practice

Clara Scher, Emily Petti, Lauren Meador, Janet H. Van Cleave, Eva Liang, M. Carrington Reid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: One of the critical components in pain management is the assessment of pain. Multidimensional measurement tools capture multiple aspects of a patient's pain experience but can be cumbersome to administer in busy clinical settings. Aim: We conducted a systematic review to identify brief multidimensional pain assessment tools that nurses can use in both ambulatory and acute care settings. Methods: We searched PUBMED/MEDLINE, PsychInfo, and CINAHL databases from January 1977 through December 2019. Eligible English-language articles were systematically screened and data were extracted independently by two raters. Main outcomes included the number and types of domains captured by each instrument (e.g., sensory, impact on function, temporal components) and tool characteristics (e.g., administration time, validity) that may affect instrument uptake in practice. Results: Our search identified eight multidimensional assessment tools, all of which measured sensory or affective qualities of pain and its impact on functioning. Most tools measured impact of pain on affective functioning, mood, or enjoyment of life. One tool used ecological momentary assessment via a web-based app to assess pain symptoms. Time to administer the varying tools ranged from less than 2 minutes to 10 minutes, and evidence of validity was reported for seven of the eight tools. Conclusions: Our review identified eight multidimensional pain measurement tools that nurses can use in ambulatory or acute care settings to capture patients’ experience of pain. The most important element in selecting a multidimensional pain measure, though, is that one tool is selected that best fits the practice and is used consistently over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-422
Number of pages7
JournalPain Management Nursing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


Dive into the research topics of 'Multidimensional Pain Assessment Tools for Ambulatory and Inpatient Nursing Practice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this