1. Rock, Ron MSN, APRN,BC

Article Content


The purpose of this Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) student project was to determine the effectiveness of using the nursing intervention of active listening in decreasing surgical patients' verbalized pain scores.



Active listening is used for recognizing patients' clues. Without this basic communication skill, patients' concerns and fears are often overlooked.



Pain, the 5th vital sign, is a critical outcome measure for nursing practice. A literature review for the support of active listening related to decreasing pain reveals no empirical studies.



An hour before scheduled pain medications were administered to male and female hospitalized surgical patients; subjective aspects of pain were obtained using an assessment tool that measures verbal and nonverbal indicators of pain. A preintervention pain score was obtained. Appropriate use of the active listening intervention was implemented during communication with each patient. Communication directed by the CNS student was based on topics and/or responses from the patient. Postintervention, a second assessment of pain, was recorded to determine effectiveness of the intervention.



Postintervention pain scores were obtained and compared with initial preintervention scores. Results indicated a 38% decrease in verbalized pain scores. It could not be determined whether active listening alone or in combination with other complementary therapies such as presence, music, touch, or reminiscence were responsible for the results.



This project demonstrates the role of the CNS in determining best practice. Active listening as a fundamental communication skill is important to use during patient care interactions. This intervention can be used in all settings where communication occurs with patients, families, and healthcare staff. Active listening helps patients to express their concerns/fears and is essential for helping to promote effective treatment for individuals experiencing pain.


Implications for Practice:

Future research recommendations include a controlled clinical project comparing patients who receive the active listening intervention and those who receive other complementary therapies as an alternative intervention, but not active listening to determine best practice.