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  1. Nemeth, Kathleen A. BNSc, MSc, RN
  2. Graham, Ian D. PhD
  3. Harrison, Margaret B. PhD, RN


OBJECTIVE: To identify and compare the psychometric, clinical sensibility, and pain-specific properties of leg ulcer pain assessment tools for use as a guide for clinicians and researchers.


DESIGN: Pain assessment tools were selected for appraisal based on 4 inclusion criteria: (1) designed specifically to measure either quality and/or intensity of pain, (2) used in at least 2 different diseases and/or pain-inducing interventions in adults, (3) generic, and (4) patient self-reporting. The tools were appraised against psychometric properties, clinical sensibility attributes, and pain-specific issues. Two reviewers independently reviewed each abstract, with a third reviewer resolving any disagreements. Then the first 2 reviewers independently assessed the selected tools using the predetermined appraisal criteria.


RESULTS: Of 54 identified pain assessment tools, 5 (the pain ruler, the numerical rating scale, the visual analogue scale, the verbal descriptor scale, and the short-form McGill Pain Questionnaire) met the inclusion criteria. Each tool met the appraisal criteria to varying degrees.


CONCLUSIONS: The use of a pain assessment tool to measure leg ulcer pain is recommended. Clinicians must decide independently which factors are most important when selecting a tool. Although a specific pain assessment approach cannot yet be recommended, a 2-step pain assessment process is most practical. To optimize pain management, further study is needed to ensure that leg ulcer pain is accurately and reliably assessed.