A1 Journal article – refereed
Reliability of three linguistically and culturally validated pain assessment tools for sedated ICU patients by ICU nurses in Finland

List of Authors: Sanna-Mari Pudas-Tähkä, Sanna Salanterä
Publication year: 2018
Journal: Scandinavian Journal of Pain
Journal name in source: SCANDINAVIAN JOURNAL OF PAIN
Journal acronym: SCAND J PAIN
Volume number: 18
Issue number: 2
ISSN: 1877-8860
eISSN: 1877-8879


Background and aims: Pain assessment in intensive care is challenging, especially when the patients are sedated. Sedated patients who cannot communicate verbally are at risk of suffering from pain that remains unnoticed without careful pain assessment. Some tools have been developed for use with sedated patients. The Behavioral Pain Scale (BPS), the Critical-Care Pain Observation Tool (CPOT) and the Nonverbal Adult Pain Assessment Scale (NVPS) have shown promising psychometric qualities. We translated and culturally adapted these three tools for the Finnish intensive care environment. The objective of this feasibility study was to test the reliability of the three pain assessment tools translated into Finnish for use with sedated intensive care patients.

Methods: Six sedated intensive care patients were video-recorded while they underwent two procedures: an endotracheal suctioning was the nociceptive procedure, and the non-nociceptive treatment was creaming of the feet. Eight experts assessed the patients' pain by observing video recordings. They assessed the pain using four instruments: the BPS, the CPOT and the NVPS, and the Numeric Rating Scale (NRS) served as a control instrument. Each expert assessed the patients' pain at five measurement points: (1) right before the procedure, (2) during the endotracheal suctioning, (3) during rest (4) during the creaming of the feet, and (5) after 20 min of rest. Internal consistency and inter-rater reliability of the tools were evaluated. After 6 months, the video recordings were evaluated for testing the test-retest reliability.

Results: Using the BPS, the CPOT, the NVPS and the NRS, 960 assessments were obtained. Internal consistency with Cronbach's alpha coefficient varied greatly with all the instruments. The lowest values were seen at those measurement points where the pain scores were 0. The highest scores were achieved after the endotracheal suctioning at rest: for the BPS, the score was 0.86; for the CPOT, 0.96; and for the NVPS, 0.90. The inter-rater reliability using the Shrout-Fleiss intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) tests showed the best results after the painful procedure and during the creaming. The scores were slightly lower for the BPS compared to the CPOT and the NVPS. The test-retest results using the Bland-Altman plots show that all instruments gave similar results.

Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first time all three behavioral pain assessment tools have been evaluated in the same study in a language other than English or French. All three tools had good internal consistency, but it was better for the CPOT and the NVPS compared to the BPS. The inter-rater reliability was best for the NVPS. The test-retest reliability was strongest for the CPOT. The three tools proved to be reliable for further testing in clinical use.

Implications: There is a need for feasible, valid and reliable pain assessment tools for pain assessment of sedated ICU patients in Finland. This was the first time the psychometric properties of these tools were tested in Finnish use. Based on the results, all three instruments could be tested further in clinical use for sedated ICU patients in Finland.

Last updated on 2019-21-08 at 23:33