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Intensive Crit Care Nurs. 2003 Jun;19(3):154-62.

Pain assessment in critical care: what have we learnt from research.

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The University of Melbourne and Melbourne Private Hospital, Royal Parade, Parkville, Vic., Australia.


Despite an ongoing acknowledgement in the literature that pain is a significant problem within the critical care environment, this issue has not been adequately addressed by critical care nurses. This paper examines strategies for changing pain management practices in critical care, including reviewing documentation practices, the utilisation of guidelines and algorithms to augment clinical decision making, and increasing educational opportunities available to critical care nurses. It is recommended that pain assessment be given a higher priority within the clinical context, particularly as inadequate pain assessment and management has been linked to increased morbidity and mortality within critical care. Importantly, critical care nurses need to not only be aware of research-based pain management practices, but also lead the way in implementation and continuous evaluation as a measure of decreasing patient pain in the future.

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