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Women Birth. 2013 Jun;26(2):143-6. doi: 10.1016/j.wombi.2012.11.001. Epub 2012 Dec 5.

Midwifery students attribute different quantitative meanings to hurt, ache and pain: a cross-sectional survey.

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  • 1School of Life Sciences, University of Skövde, Box 408, SE-541 28 Skövde, Sweden.



Assessment of women's labor pain is seldom acknowledged in clinical practice or research. The words "aching" and "hurting" are frequently used by women to describe childbirth pain. The aim of this study was to determine the quantitative meanings midwifery students attribute to the terms "hurt", "ache" and "pain". Data was collected by self-administered questionnaire from students at seven Swedish midwifery programs. A total of 230 filled out and returned a completed questionnaire requesting them to rate, on a visual analog scale, the intensity of "hurt", "ache" or "pain" in the back, as reported by a fictitious parturient.


The midwifery students attributed, with substantial individual variation, different quantitative meanings to the studied pain descriptors.


To be able to communicate about pain with a woman in labor, it is essential that the midwife be familiar with the value of different words and what they mean to her as this may affect her assessment when the woman describes her pain.

Copyright © 2012 Australian College of Midwives. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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