Evaluating persistent pain in long term care residents: what role for pain maps?

Pain. 1998 May;76(1-2):249-57. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3959(98)00059-1.


The purpose of this study was to examine the utility of the pain map as a pain assessment tool in frail nursing home residents. The study was conducted in two phases. In Phase 1, nursing home staff's knowledge of the locations of resident pain complaints was examined. We found significant deficiencies in this knowledge. In Phase 2, we examined the following test characteristics of pain extensity (number of painful body areas annotated on pain map): (1) test-retest reliability, (2) convergent validity as compared with pain intensity measured by a pain thermometer (modified vertical verbal descriptor scale) and an 11 point numerical graphic rating scale (NGRS), and (3) predictive validity with depression, functional impairment and self-rated health. Pain map scoring was performed by counting the number of involved body areas (i.e., numbered segments) using an established scoring template. Test-retest reliability by body area was excellent. Pain extensity was modestly associated with pain thermometer-scored pain intensity but not with NGRS-scored pain intensity. Pain extensity also demonstrated modest predictive validity with self-rated health, but not with depression or functional impairment. The advantage of knowing where residents hurt is that this allows staff to target their assessment and thus determine the functional implications of residents' pain. It appears that pain maps add a useful dimension to pain assessment in residents of long term care facilities.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Demography
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Veterans
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Care*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / diagnosis*
  • Pain / psychology
  • Pain Measurement / methods*
  • Pain Measurement / standards
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Residential Treatment*