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Pain. 1992 Jul;50(1):15-28.

The prevalence of pain in hospitalized patients and resolution over six months.

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School of Nursing, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Pain was assessed in 2415 randomly selected hospitalized patients. Fifty percent of the sample reported pain at the time of the interview, and 67% had experienced pain during the past 24 h. High levels of pain were more frequent in postpartum women, patients with diseases of the musculoskeletal systems and after injury or poisoning, but in all diagnostic categories there were patients whose lowest pain level in the preceding 24 h was moderate or severe. Patients who had undergone a surgical procedure during the past 7 days were more likely to report moderate or severe pain, but 21% of non-surgical patients reported moderate or severe pain. Twenty percent of those with pain reported that it had existed for more than 6 months. Patients reported significant impairment of function and distress as a consequence of pain. Use of analgesic medications was low overall and even lower for non-surgical patients. A decrease in pain over 3 weeks was predicted by pain of shorter duration, a shorter duration of hospitalization in the past year, and if a surgical procedure had been performed. None of these variables predicted pain resolution between 3 weeks and 3 or 6 months. Impairment of function did not increase with continuing pain but distress did. Medication use remained low at follow-up. The data indicate that current strategies to improve pain management need to be critically reviewed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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