Objective: The objective of this study is to identify patient self-reported pain scores and understanding and perspectives of the Verbal Numeric Pain Scale. Methods: In this prospective survey study, eligible participants were interviewed by research assistants. Data collected included ED patients self-reported pain scores, previous painful experiences, and their understanding of the Verbal Numeric Pain Scale,
Results: Among 164 participants (92% response rate), the mean triage pain score was 6.4 (95% CI 6.0-6.9). Many participants had experienced significant painful experiences in the past, including major surgery (N = 113), broken bone (N = 102), childbirth (N = 89) and kidney stone (N = 70). Higher pain scores were associated with African American race (pain score mean 7.4 (95% CI 6.7, 8.0)), and less fast food intake (7.0 (95% CI 6.5, 7.6)). Other clinical factors not associated with significant differences in self-reported pain include: gender, age, mode of arrival, triage level, previous painful experiences, education, tobacco use, alcohol use, exercise, and hours of sleep per night. When asked about the meaning of “0”, most patients responded that it means “no pain” (N = 150; 91.5%). When asked about the meaning of “10”, most participants responded “severe” (N = 129; 78.7%). A minority of participants correctly stated that “10” corresponds to “worst pain imaginable” (N = 24; 15%). Most participants agreed that the verbal numeric pain scale is a good way to rate pain (N = 120; 73.2%).
Conclusions: Pain is a common reason for seeking emergency care. Higher self-reported pain scores were associated with African American race. Most participants agreed that the verbal numeric pain scale is a good way to rate pain.
Bayonnet, B. (2020). The Verbal Numeric Pain Scale: ED Patient Understanding and Perspectives. Wright State University. Dayton, Ohio.