BACKGROUND: Little is known about the acute pain experiences of traumatically injured critically ill patients. OBJECTIVES: To describe pain experiences of traumatically injured adults during the first 72 hours of hospitalization. METHODS: Thirty multiply injured adults at a level I trauma center participated in the study. Pain was measured by using the McGill Pain Questionnaire and a visual analog scale. Subjects completed pain measures while at rest in a supine recumbent position and after a turn onto the side. RESULTS: The typical subject was 37 years old, had 4 major blunt trauma injuries, and had received the equivalent of 55.9 mg of morphine during the 24 hours before data collection. Mean at-rest scores were 26.5 on the pain-rating index, 2 on the present pain intensity index, and 34.6 on the visual analog scale. Immediately after the turn, mean scores on the visual analog scale increased from 25 to 48.1 (P = .002). Other pain scores after the turn did not differ significantly from at-rest values. Subjects who turned had lower scores on the visual analog scale at rest (P = .02) and less anxiety (P = .02) than did those who refused to turn. Ninety-six percent reported pain in the injured areas, and 36% reported pain related to biomedical devices. No relationship was found among reported pain and demographic, treatment, or clinical variables. CONCLUSIONS: Additional research is needed on pain at rest and during commonly performed procedures and on improved methods for pain relief in traumatically injured critically ill patients.

You do not currently have access to this content.