Detection and assessment of pain in dementia care practice Registered nurses’ and certified nursing assistants’ experiences

University dissertation from Jönköping : Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare

Abstract: Aim: The overall aim of the thesis was to explore and describe registered nurses’ (RNs) and certified nursing assistants’ (CNAs) experiences of detection and assessment of pain in older people with cognitive impairment and dementia. A further aim was to evaluate the Abbey Pain Scale-SWE (APS-SWE) in dementia care practice.Methods: An exploratory and descriptive design was used in Study I. An exploratory and interpreting design was used in Study II and Study III. A prospective, descriptive, observational and instrumental design was used in Study IV. Focus group interviews (I) and individual interviews (II, III) were applied to explore and describe RNs’ and CNAs’ experiences of pain assessment in people living with dementia. Qualitative content analysis (I) and philosophical hermeneutics (II) were used to analyse qualitative data. Observation, instrument, and questionnaire were applied to evaluate reliability and face validity of the APS-SWE for pain assessment. Descriptive statistics and reliability analyses were used to analyse quantitative data (IV).Results: RNs in special housing accommodation settings experiences that pain assessment in people with dementia is challenging primarily due to their changed RN consultant role, which to a great extent is directed into administrative and consultative tasks rather than bedside care. This has led to decreased time in daily nursing care, preventing recognising symptoms of pain. This have also led to that RNs are dependent on information from CNAs who are the front-line staff providing daily care (I). CNAs’ perception of signs of pain in people with dementia emerges from being present in the care situation and alertness on physical and behavioural changes that could be due to pain, and from providing the care in a preventive, protective and supportive way to prevent painful situations occurring (II). RNs and CNAs working in home healthcare team use a variety of strategies to detect and assess pain. A trustful work relationship based on staff continuity and a good relation to the person in need of care facilitates pain assessment situations (III). Systematic observation of older people living in special housing accommodation during rest and mobility using the APS-SWE demonstrates that the scale has adequate internal consistency, reliability, and face validity for pain assessment (IV).Conclusions: This thesis found that the RNs’ and CNAs’ detections and assessments of pain rely on solid cooperation, staff continuity, and good knowledge of the person cared for. It was also revealed that there is a lack of using appropriate and assisting pain tools. The APS-SWE show adequate reliability and face validity and can serve as a useful pain tool to assist in detection and assessment of pain in older people who are limited in verbalising pain recognisable. Further evaluation of how the person-centred perspective is applied in pain assessment situations is needed in order to evaluate positive outcomes in people with dementia. Further psychometric evaluation of the APS-SWE in clinical dementia care practice is needed to strengthen validity and reliability.