Tools for assessment of pain in nonverbal older adults with dementia: a state-of-the-science review

Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


NLM Title Abbreviation

J Pain Symptom Manage

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of Pain & Symptom Management

PubMed ID



To improve assessment and management of pain in nonverbal older adults with dementia, an effective means of recognizing and evaluating pain in this vulnerable population is needed. The purpose of this review is to critically evaluate the existing tools used for pain assessment in this population to provide recommendations to clinicians. Ten pain assessment tools based on observation of behavioral indicators for use with nonverbal older adults with dementia were evaluated according to criteria and indicators in five areas: conceptualization, subjects, administration, reliability, and validity. Results indicate that although a number of tools demonstrate potential, existing tools are still in the early stages of development and testing. Currently, there is no standardized tool based on nonverbal behavioral pain indicators in English that may be recommended for broad adoption in clinical practice. © 2006 by the United States Cancer Pain Relief Committee.


Cognition Disorders -- Diagnosis, Dementia -- Diagnosis, Geriatric Assessment -- Methods, Nonverbal Communication, Pain -- Diagnosis, Pain Measurement -- Methods, Aged, Aged, 80 and Over, Cognition Disorders -- Etiology, Dementia -- Complications, Pain -- Etiology, Pain Measurement -- Trends, Reproducibility of Results, Literature Review, Sensitivity and Specificity

Published Article/Book Citation

Journal of Pain & Symptom Management, 31:2 (2006) pp.170-192.

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