Pain description by nurses and physicians

Kristine Turner Norvell, Fannie Gaston-Johansson, Lani Zimmerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to determine if nurses and physicians selected similar words to describe painlike experiences and to determine how they rated terms commonly used to describe pain. Thirty-seven registered nurses and 21 physicians comprised the sample. The Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) was used to measure the terms ache, hurt, and pain. The McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ) provided a list of word descriptors from which the subjects selected words that best represented the terms ache, hurt, and pain. There was no significant difference between the nurses and physicians in the mean rating of any of the pain terms on the VAS. The nurses and physicians chose very similar word descriptors from the MPQ to discriminate one pain term from another. These findings suggest that nurses and physicians may have a common understanding of the language used to describe painlike experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-17
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1990


  • Pain language
  • pain intensity
  • semantics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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