A 10-year review of quality improvement monitoring in pain management: Recommendations for standardized outcome measures

Debra B. Gordon*, Teresa A. Pellino, Christine Miaskowski, Jeanette Adams McNeill, Judith A. Paice, Daniel Laferriere, Marilyn Bookbinder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

174 Scopus citations


Quality measurement in health care is complex and in a constant state of evolution. Different approaches are necessary depending on the purpose of the measurement (e.g., accountability, research, improvement). Recent changes in health care accreditation standards are driving increased attention to measurement of the quality of pain management for improvement purposes. The purpose of this article is to determine what indicators are being used for pain quality improvement, compare results across studies, and provide specific recommendations to simplify and standardize future measurement of quality for hospital-based pain management initiatives. Pain management quality improvement monitoring experience and data from 1992 to 2001 were analyzed from 20 studies performed at eight large hospitals in the United States. Hospitals included: the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison; Texas Medical Center, Houston; McAllen Medical Center, McAllen, TX; San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco; Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center and Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago, IL; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York; and Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center of Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Clackamas, OR. Analyses of data led to consensus on six quality indicators for hospital-based pain management. These indicators include: the intensity of pain is documented with a numeric or descriptive rating scale; pain intensity is documented at frequent intervals; pain is treated by a route other than intramuscular; pain is treated with regularly administered analgesics, and when possible, a multimodal approach is used; pain is prevented and controlled to a degree that facilitates function and quality of life; and patients are adequately informed and knowledgeable about pain management. Although there are no perfect measures of quality, longitudinal data support the validity of a core set of indicators that could be used to obtain benchmark data for quality improvement in pain management in the hospital setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116-130
Number of pages15
JournalPain Management Nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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