Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Using Pain-Rating Scales with Older Adults

Flaherty, Ellen PhD, GNP-BC

AJN, American Journal of Nursing: June 2008 - Volume 108 - Issue 6 - p 40–47
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000324375.02027.9f
FEATURE: How To try this

Pain is often undertreated and underdiagnosed in older adults. Regular use of short, simple, reliable pain-rating scales provides nurses and physicians with measurable information to establish and modify a pain management plan. This article describes the use of three widely used pain-rating scales: the numeric rating scale, the verbal descriptor scale, and the Faces Pain Scale–Revised. For a free online video demonstrating the use of these scales in older adults, go to

Ellen Flaherty is vice president for quality improvement at Village Care of New York in New York City. The author of this article has disclosed no significant ties, financial or otherwise, to any company that might have an interest in the publication of this educational activity.

Contact author:

How to Try This is a three-year project funded by a grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation to the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at New York University's College of Nursing in collaboration with AJN. This initiative promotes the Hartford Institute's geriatric assessment tools, Try This: Best Practices in Nursing Care to Older Adults: The series will include articles and corresponding videos, all of which will be available for free online at Nancy A. Stotts, EdD, RN, FAAN (, and Sherry A. Greenberg, MSN, GNP-BC (, are coeditors of the print series. The articles and videos are to be used for educational purposes only. The scales discussed in this article are reprinted with the permission of the International Association for the Study of Pain.

Routine use of Try This tools or approaches may require formal review and approval by your employer.

The numeric rating scale, verbal descriptor scale, and Faces Pain Scale–Revised.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.