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Pilot Evaluation of a Functional Pain Assessment Scale

Halm, Margo, PhD; Bailey, Christie, PhD; St. Pierre, Jeanne, MN; Boutin, Nancy, MD; Rojo, Susan, BSN; Shortt, Melissa, MSN; Theobald, Lisa, BSN; Pettycrew, Elena, BSN

doi: 10.1097/NUR.0000000000000416
Feature Article

Purpose/Aims: Common pain assessment tools measure intensity, ignoring other dimensions of pain like function. The aim of this study was to test the psychometric properties of a newly developed functional pain assessment scale (FPAS) for use in clinical practice.

Design/Methods: In this descriptive correlational study, an FPAS was developed and then evaluated against 2 validated pain tools in 68 hospitalized adult patients experiencing acute and/or chronic pain. These tools included the numeric pain rating scale and a 100-mm visual analog scale.

Results: The FPAS was significantly correlated (ρ = 0.72–0.87; P < .001) with the numeric pain rating scale and visual analog scale in cognitively intact patients but not the cognitively impaired (ρ = 0.22–0.34; P > .05). Test-retest reliability coefficients for the 3 scales were high (ρ = 0.82–0.94; P < .001), demonstrating stability of the measures. Overall, patients preferred the FPAS; this preference was significantly greater in patients older than 40 years.

Conclusions: This pilot study provided support for the reliability and validity of the FPAS in cognitively intact patients experiencing pain. Although more research is needed, clinicians may consider using the FPAS with cognitively intact adults to assess the functional impact of pain on pain intensity. Clinical nurse specialists play a pivotal role in role modeling and guiding the introduction and testing of new assessment approaches into clinical practice settings across the continuum of care.

Author Affiliations: Previous Director of Nursing Research, Professional Practice & Magnet (Dr Halm), Nursing Volunteer EBP Council (Dr Bailey), Geriatric Clinical Nurse Specialist (Ms St Pierre), Palliative Care Director (Dr Boutin), Clinical Nurse (Ms Rojo), Assistant Nurse Manager (Ms Shortt), Clinical Nurse (Ms Theobald), and Assistant Nurse Manager (Ms Pettycrew), Salem Health Hospitals and Clinics, Salem, Oregon.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Margo A. Halm, PhD, RN, CNS, NEA-BC, Nursing Research & EBP, VA Portland Healthcare System, 3710 SW Veterans Hospital Road, Portland, OR 97239 (

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