New ‘Goals for Pain Relief’ Scale Proves Reliable in Pilot Study

New ‘Goals for Pain Relief’ Scale Proves Reliable in Pilot Study

SAN DIEGO, California—Patients’ differing goals for pain relief
may explain some of the variability in pain outcomes. In an attempt to better
understand and document these goals, Marie A. Flannery, RN, MS, a nurse
practitioner and senior associate at the University of Rochester Cancer Center,
developed a 13-item "goals for pain relief" scale.

The scale was designed to assess patient goals concerning pain severity,
pain frequency, pain distress, pain relief, and desired level of pain-related
interference with activities. Respondents rated each of the 13 items on an
11-point numeric rating scale.

Responses were prompted with questions such as, What is your goal for how
severe you want your pain to be? What is your goal for how distressing or
upsetting you want your pain to be today? What is your goal for how much you
want your pain to interfere with your general activity? Compared with other
goals you have for today, how important is managing your pain?

Ms. Flannery conducted a pilot study of the scale’s reliability in a group
of 15 patients with lung, breast, or colon cancer. The patients ranged in age
from 48 to 75; 11 were female, and the majority had metastatic disease. All had
current prescriptions for opioid analgesics.

The alpha reliability coefficient of the "goals for pain relief"
scale was .88, and interitem reliability ranged from .4 to .8. Patients
confirmed that the directions and questions on the scale were clear.

This pilot study, presented at a poster session at the Oncology Nursing
Society’s 26th Annual Congress (abstract 124), demonstrated a full range of
goals for pain relief. However, patient goals were skewed toward a desire for
low-level pain, and four patients desired no pain and complete relief in all

Another intriguing finding was a wide variance in patient responses to the
question concerning how their goal for pain management compared with their
other goals for the day.


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