Paramedic adult pain assessment: pilot study

Background: An inability to assess pain may lead to poor or incorrect treatment. However, pain is often poorly assessed in the prehospital setting. Objective: This study aimed to determine the inter-rater reliability of the Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale in the prehospital setting in Qatar with five adult standardised patients. Methods: This prospective, quantitative pilot study gathered primary data using survey questionnaires. Five members of staff played the roles of standardised adult patients presenting with differing reference levels of pain. Thirty-five paramedics assessed and recorded the pain intensity score of these five patients using the Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale. Each participant was exposed to the same five patients and the same range of facial expressions in a random order. Results: The paramedics recorded the pain score of the five patients based on their observations of their facial expressions, often unexpectedly comparing these to the FACES tool. Overall, the inter-rater reliability as determined through Fleiss' kappa indicated only a poor-to-slight agreement of the allocated pain scores against the reference standards. There was a wide grouping of the pain score levels around the reference standard; most of the allocations were 1 to 2 pain score levels away from the reference standard, although not in a normal distribution, with some of the higher reference pain levels receiving lower scores and vice versa. Sensitivity was poor to very poor throughout. Conclusion: The inter-rater reliability of the participant sample when using the Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale to determine pain levels of five standardised patients was poor because the tool was surprisingly not used appropriately by most clinicians. This could be attributed to various factors including the multinational population, language barriers, a lack of familiarisation with the Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale and other environmental factors.

Subscribe to get full access to the Journal of Paramedic Practice

Thank you for vising the Journal of Paramedic Practice and reading our archive of expert clinical content. If you would like to read more from the only journal dedicated to those working in emergency care, you can start your subscription today for just £48.

CPD Focus

Reading the Journal of Paramedic Practice counts towards your professional development

Develop your career

We provide professional information dedicated to paramedics covering training, education and jobs

Stay informed

Get the latest clinical information to ensure you are aware of the latest think and best practice in paramedicne

Subscribe now

Already registered? - Sign in here

Keep up to date with Journal of Paramedic Practice!

Sign up to Journal of Paramedic Practice’s regular newsletters and keep up-to-date with the very latest clinical research and CPD we publish each month.