Body R, Kaide E, Kendal S, Foex B Not all suffering is pain: sources of patients' suffering in the emergency department call for improvements in communication from practitioners. Emerg Med J. 2013;

Pain and suffering: how do we treat both?

01 February 2014
Volume 6 · Issue 2

This study explores the experience of ‘suffering’ from the patient's perspective. Although undertaken in an emergency department (ED), it has clear relevance for other healthcare professions.

The authors identify that physical pain can be a significant issue for people presenting in the ED and they support the current focus on timely and effective pain management. However, at the same time, they urge clinicians to consider the overall burden of ‘suffering’ on their patients. Suffering can include a wide range of physical symptoms, e.g. nausea, dizziness, discomfort, as well as psychological or emotional conditions, e.g. anxiety, panic, low mood.

The aims of the research are to describe the nature of ‘suffering’ as experienced by patients attending the ED, and to explore how patients would like their suffering to be managed in the ED.

During May and June 2012, 125 patients (over the age of 16 years) presenting at the ED at the Manchester Royal Infirmary agreed to participate in brief, face-to-face questionnaires both at the time of arrival and just prior to leaving the ED.

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