Correlation of patient- and clinician-assessment of pain: comparing physiotherapy and general practice

Sarah J White, Mark Butlin, Alicia Brown, Ross White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The clinical work of GPs and physiotherapists frequently involves the assessment of patient pain. In this study, we aimed to determine the correlation of patient- and clinician-assessment of severity of pain through quantitative analysis of patient- and clinician-assessed pain scores collected at metropolitan general practice and physiotherapy clinics. Prior to a consultation, 30 patients were asked to complete a short general health survey within which they answered questions regarding current pain and, if in pain, the severity of that pain on the visual analogue scale. Following the consultation, their clinicians were asked questions on their observation of the patients, including whether they observed that their patients were in pain and, if so, how severe on the visual analogue scale. Statistical analysis of these data showed that although there was a correlation between the physiotherapist- and patient-assessed pain scores, there was no correlation between the GP- and patient-assessed pain scores. Accurately establishing the severity of patient pain can be difficult. These results suggest that GPs routinely underestimate the severity of patient pain. If the severity of patient pain is clinically relevant, GPs could improve the accuracy of assessment by asking patients directly about that aspect of pain.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Journal of Primary Health
Early online date29 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • general practitioner
  • pain assessment
  • pain measurement
  • physiotherapist
  • primary care
  • visual analogue scale

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