Objective: Patients frequently display behaviors during procedures that may be pain related. Clinicians often rely on the patient's demonstration of behaviors as a cue to presence of pain. The purpose of this study was to identify specific pain-related behaviors and factors that predict the degree of behavioral responses during the following procedures: turning, central venous catheter insertion, wound drain removal, wound care, tracheal suctioning, and femoral sheath removal.
Design: Prospective, descriptive study.
Setting: Multiple units in 169 hospitals in United States, Canada, England, and Australia.
Patients: A total of 5,957 adult patients who underwent one of the six procedures.
Measurements and main results: A 30-item behavior observation tool was used to note patients' behaviors before and during a procedure. By comparing behaviors exhibited before and during the procedure as well as behaviors in those with and without procedural pain (as noted on a 0-10 numeric rating scale), we identified specific procedural pain behaviors: grimacing, rigidity, wincing, shutting of eyes, verbalization, moaning, and clenching of fists. On average, there were significantly more behaviors exhibited by patients with vs. without procedural pain (3.5 vs. 1.8 behaviors; t = 38.3, df = 5072.5; 95% confidence interval, 1.6-1.8). Patients with procedural pain were at least three times more likely to have increased behavioral responses than patients without procedural pain. A simultaneous regression model determined that 33% of the variance in amount of pain behaviors exhibited during a procedure was explained by three factors: degree of procedural pain intensity, degree of procedural distress, and undergoing the turning procedure.
Conclusions: Because of the strong relationship between procedural pain and behavioral responses, clinicians can use behavioral responses of verbal and nonverbal patients to plan for, implement, and evaluate analgesic interventions.