Send to

Choose Destination
J Am Geriatr Soc. 2005 Feb;53(2):319-26.

Instruments for the assessment of pain in older persons with cognitive impairment.

Author information

Specialized Geriatric Services of Southwestern Ontario, St. Joseph's Health Care, London, Ontario, Canada. <>


Pain in older persons with cognitive impairment is often unrecognized and inadequately treated. A major problem associated with this undertreatment is the challenging nature of pain assessment and in particular the selection of accurate and useful assessment instruments. The purpose of this study was to review pain measurement instruments for acute and chronic pain suggested for use with cognitively impaired older persons and to summarize available evidence on their reliability and validity. A systematic search for pain instruments was conducted using several bibliographic databases, supplemented by a manual search of the bibliographies of retrieved articles and review chapters and by articles received from experts and clinicians in the field. Instruments were retained for review when the pain instrument was used or recommended for use with older persons with cognitive impairment. Thirty-nine instruments were reviewed; nine were excluded for various reasons. Of the remaining 30, 18 were self-report and 12 were staff administered. There were no instruments for which all major tests of reliability or validity were reported. Reliability and validity data were basic or unavailable for many instruments. One instrument had excellent validity but no reliability data. The remaining instruments had weak or adequate reliability and validity. The authors conclude that there is a need for further rigorous development and testing of pain instruments for use with cognitively impaired older persons. An adequate instrument would be one component of an effective program for assessment and management of pain in this population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center