Outcome Measures to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Pain Management in Older Adults With Cancer

Christine Miaskowski

pain, pain management, geriatric nursing
ONF 2010, 37(5), 27-32. DOI: 10.1188/10.ONF.S1.27-32

Purpose/Objectives: To identify the most appropriate outcome measures to determine the effectiveness of pain management plans in older adults with cancer.

Data Sources: PubMed literature searches, medical and nursing textbooks, and clinical experience.

Data Synthesis: Unrelieved chronic pain can have a significant impact on older adults' activity levels and their ability to function. Hence, effective pain management in older adults requires a comprehensive approach, including assessment of functional outcomes. Because the goals of pain management are broad, healthcare professionals should use an array of functional outcome measures along with pain intensity ratings to better assess the effectiveness of analgesic medications.

Conclusions: Particularly in older adults, evaluation of functional outcomes provides a better indication of the effectiveness of pain management strategies than pain intensity ratings. Appropriate outcome measures for older adults in the outpatient setting include pain relief, physical functioning, emotional functioning, patients' ratings of global improvement and satisfaction with treatment, and symptoms and adverse effects associated with analgesic medications.

Implications for Nursing: Healthcare providers should manage pain in older adults with cancer in an interdisciplinary environment with pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic interventions. The primary goals are decreasing pain and improving function and quality of life.

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