Which pain assessment tools should be incorporated into routine clinical practice?
Pain is the most common reason individuals seek health care services, so all patients should be screened for pain at every health care visit. If pain is the focus of the visit, a thorough pain assessment, medical history, and physical examination are necessary to establish clinical diagnosis. Pain assessment is a critical component for the diagnosis and treatment of children’s pain. Always ask a child directly about their pain experience. Obtain objective information about pain pattern, intensity, and quality of children’s pain to facilitate diagnosis and treatment plan. A few structured questions and valid and reliable pain assessment tools can be easily incorporated into regular health care visits.
Pain diaries are a way to track children’s pain experiences and provide more information for clinical diagnosis and treatment planning. Real-time, electronic, handheld diaries have been developed for children with recurrent and chronic pain. Electronic pain diaries are readily available, but availability should not be confused with quality. Health care professionals must evaluate e-diaries and pain apps for reliability, validity, and efficacy as thoroughly as other pain assessment tools or treatment prior to recommending them for patients.