Background: Pain pattern represents how the individual's pain changes temporally with activities or other factors, but researchers have studied less the pattern of pain than its location, intensity, and quality parameters.
Objective: The aim of this study was to explore differences in pain location, intensity, and quality by pattern groups in outpatients with cancer.
Method: We conducted a comparative, secondary data analysis of data collected from 1994 to 2007. Seven hundred sixty-two outpatients with cancer completed the 0- to 10-point Pain Intensity Number Scale and the McGill Pain Questionnaire to measure pain location, quality and pattern. From all possible combinations of the 3 types of pain patterns, we created 7 pain pattern groups.
Results: Pain pattern group distribution was as follows: pattern 1 (27%), 2 (24%), 3 (8%), 4 (12%), 5 (3%), 6 (18%), and 7 (8%). A significant higher proportion of patients with continuous pain pattern (patterns 1, 4, 5, and 7) reported pain location in 2 or more sites. Patients with patterns 1, 4, and 7 reported significantly higher worst pain mean scores than did patients with patterns 2, 3, and 6. Patients with pattern 7 reported significantly higher mean scores for the Pain Rating Index-sensory and total number of words selected than did patients with patterns 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6.
Conclusions: Using pain pattern groups may help nurses to understand temporal changes in cancer pain and to provide more effective pain management, especially if the pain has a continuous component.
Implications for Practice: Nurses or clinicians who are taking care of patients with cancer should recognize that pain patterns are associated with pain location, intensity, and quality.