Assessing sedation with regional anesthesia: inter-rater agreement on a modified Wilson sedation scale

Anesth Analg. 2002 Mar;94(3):723-8; table of contents. doi: 10.1097/00000539-200203000-00045.


A valid and reliable means for measuring sedation during regional anesthesia would be valuable for both research and practice. Current methods of monitoring sedation include machine-, patient-, and observer-based assessment. The reliability of machine-based methods is limited at lower levels of sedation, whereas patient-based methods are impractical at higher levels. Observer-based methods offer the best alternative for assessing sedation during regional anesthesia; however, their reliability has not been adequately documented. We examined the interrater reliability of the Wilson sedation scale. Sedation was assessed by pairs of anesthesia care providers in 100 patients undergoing surgical procedures with regional anesthesia. On the basis of the findings, the scale was modified, and 50 additional patients were assessed. The study protocol called for a series of standardized stimuli administered by a research assistant. Raters were blinded to each other's ratings. Interrater reliability was assessed by using the kappa statistic, a measure of actual agreement beyond agreement by chance. When continuing checks on its operationalization and reliability are included, the modified Wilson scale provides a simple and reliable means by which to assess and monitor intraoperative sedation.

Implications: We evaluated the interrater reliability of the Wilson scale for measuring sedation during regional anesthesia. Paired anesthesia care providers' ratings of patient sedation indicated very good interrater reliability in both the original scale and a modified version. The modified Wilson scale provides a quick noninvasive means of monitoring sedation during regional anesthesia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anesthesia, Conduction*
  • Conscious Sedation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation