Nurses' knowledge of the principles of acute pain assessment in critically ill adult patients who are able to self-report

Irene Betty Kizza, Joshua Kanaabi Muliira, Thecla W. Kohi, Rose Chalo Nabirye

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Nurses play a critical role in managing and alleviating acute pain among critically ill adult patients (CIAP). The purpose of this study was to determine nurses' level of knowledge about principles of acute pain assessment in CIAP. Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study design and questionnaire survey were employed to collect data from 170 nurses caring for CIAP at Uganda's national hospital. Results: The mean knowledge score of nurses was 71% indicating adequate knowledge levels. However, a large proportion of nurses was not knowledgeable about aspects related to pre-emptive analgesia when performing procedures for CIAP such as; airway suctioning (45.3%); invasive line placement (46.5%); and spontaneous breathing trials (63.5%). A large number of nurses did not know or believe that a patient can rate their pain accurately (43.5%). Nurses' knowledge about pain assessment principles was significantly associated with their understanding of the need to assess for pain and pre-emptive analgesia for physical procedures such as; patient repositioning (OR = 0.103, CI = 0.031-0.345); drain removal (OR = 0.088, CI = 0.025-0.314); and invasive line placement (OR = 0.039, CI = 0.011-0.140). Conclusion: The nurses had adequate general knowledge about the principles of acute pain assessment in CIAP. However, some knowledge gaps exist about key concepts in pain assessment and these can curtail the efforts to ensure quality pain assessment and management in CIAP. The findings entrench the need for focused professional training and continuing professional education about best practices for pain assessment and management in CIAP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-27
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Africa Nursing Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2016



  • Critical care
  • Knowledge
  • Nurse
  • Pain assessment
  • Uganda

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)

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