Pain Management in Dutch Nursing Homes Leaves Much to Be Desired
This cross-sectional multicenter study describes several aspects of pain, pain intensity, and pain treatment in a Dutch nursing home population. A standardized pain questionnaire, including the Numeric Rating Scale (NRS), was used to measure aspects of pain and intensity of present pain, pain experienced in the previous week, and tolerable pain. The eligible sample comprised 320 residents (median age 79 years), of whom 233 residents completed the questionnaire. Sixty-six percent (n = 153) experienced (mostly chronic) pain, either in the previous week (median NRS 6) or at present (median NRS 5). Intolerable pain was recorded in 41% of 100 residents. The higher the pain scores, the more interference with activities of daily living was reported. Of the 153 residents with pain, about one-fourth did not receive any pain medication, and 65 (43%) received step 1, 13 (9%) step 2, and 16 (11%) step 3 analgesics. Most residents (60%) were satisfied with pain treatment, and 21% were not. Considering the high prevalences and intensities of pain, pain management in Dutch nursing homes leaves much to be desired. Apparently, residents do not seem to expect effective pain management. Awareness and knowledge about pain assessment and treatment, however, needs to be raised. Pain measurement tools and treatment protocols should be implemented in daily practice.