Background: The interpretation and expression of pain are closely related to an individual's social and cultural background. To convey messages on pain, language and words (pain descriptors) is particularly significant in assessment and evaluation of pain severity and its management. Therefore, the study of pain descriptors is crucial in clinical practice.
Methods: It was of exploratory-descriptive design. Samples were recruited by convenience. Data were collected by structured self-administered questionnaire. Data obtained included demographic information and pain descriptors used by the subjects in various pain conditions. Data were analyzed by descriptive statistics. Pain descriptors were categorized according to nature, process, intensity, aggravating factors, accompanying symptoms and behavioral manifestation.
Results: Total number of pain descriptors (in Cantonese) based on real pain experience was 3017, mean was 3 (n = 986). The commonest used descriptors was the nature of pain (41%). The intensity of pain constituted 20%. There was no significant difference in the number of pain descriptors between male and female. However, there was a significant difference between the type of pain descriptors used (Mfemale = 526, Mmale = 453, Z = -2.9729, p = 0.0029). There were also significant differences in the use of pain descriptors among the various age groups (X2 = 15.0157, df = 4, P = 0.0047) and educational levels (X2 = 11.2443, df = 4, P = 0.0240). The types of descriptors used increased with an increase in age and education levels.
Conclusions: This exploratory-descriptive study explores the use of pain descriptors among Chinese young adults in Hong Kong. The result shows that female use more pain descriptors than male. The pain descriptors that female used are mostly of nature type. The similarities and differences in findings with those of the Ho's (1991) are compared.