Pain: A Concept Analysis
Pain is a complex and multidimensional phenomenon that is subjective and unique to each individual. Pain is difficult to describe and often hard to measure; however, most healthcare professionals agree that pain is whatever the patient describes it to be. Pain is one of the most frequently used nursing diagnosis and is the most common problem for which patients in the clinical setting seek help (Cheng, Foster, & Huang, 2003). Unrelieved pain can have a profound impact on the lives of both the patient and his or her family members. The subjective nature of pain makes pain difficult to assess; therefore, many patients do not receive adequate relief. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), has recognized pain as a "major, yet largely avoidable, public health problem" (JCAHO, 1999, para. 1) for which the organization has "developed standards that create new expectations for the assessment and management of pain in accredited hospitals and other health care settings" (JCAHO, 1999, para. 1). These new standards make it essential for healthcare personnel to acquire a better understanding of the concept of pain. The concept of pain is often inadequately defined. A concept analysis of pain would benefit nurses and other health providers and enable these individuals to achieve a better understanding of what pain is and how pain impacts patient care. The purpose of this concept analysis is to clarify the defining attributes of pain, identify factors that influence the perception of pain, and provide a clear understanding of the term pain. The 11 step concept analysis method described by Wilson will be used to (a) identify isolating questions of the concept of pain, (b) identifying the right answers or essential uses of the concept, (c) provide an example of a model case, (d) describe the social context of the concept of pain, (e) discuss underlying anxiety related to the concept of pain, (f) discuss practical results of understanding the elements of the concept of pain, (g) describe results in language or theoretical definition of the concept of pain, and (h) use the concept of pain in at least one clinical situation or setting. Isolating Questions of a Concept
Nurses are often confronted with the dilemma of assessing pain and determining if a patient's pain is controlled effectively. "Pain cannot be assessed adequately if it remains vague, ambiguous and arbitrarily defined" (Montes-Sandoval, 1999, p. 935). Since nurses are at the bedside working closely with their patients, they are often in the best position to "identify the patient who has pain; to appropriately assess the pain and its impact on the patient, the patient's family, and health professionals; to initiate action to alleviate pain using available resources; and to evaluate the effectiveness of those actions" (International Association for the Study of Pain, para. 3). The first step in analyzing the concept of pain is to isolate questions of the concept. Questions of importance to be identified in this concept analysis include: 1.
What is pain?
What are the defining attributes of pain?
What influences the perception of pain?
How can pain be accurately assessed?
Identification of Right Answers of the Concept of Pain
According to Wilson, as cited by Avant and Abbott (2000), there are "no right answers in a concept analysis" (p. 66); however, concepts have primary and central uses that can be distinguished through thoughtful analysis (p. 66). Pain can be defined in a variety of ways, and while "existing definitions often do not provide a complete sense of meaning, they are useful in identifying basic elements, perceptions or feelings related to the concept" (Montes-Sandoval, 1999, p. 936). Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (1989) defines pain as (a) bodily distress or suffering due to injury or illness; (b) a distressing sensation in a particular part of the...
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