Patients' Versus Nurses' Assessments of Pain and Sedation After Cesarean Section

Angella J. Olden, Elizabeth T. Jordan, Neal T. Sakima, Jeffrey A. Grass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Objective: To compare nurses' and patients' assessments of pain and sedation in patients receiving epidural or intravenous patient‐controlled analgesia (PCA) after cesarean section. Design: Prospective, randomized study. Setting: The perinatal unit mid labor and delivery unit in a 1,036‐bed university hospital in the mid‐Atlantic region. Participants:‘Twenty‐six patients receiving epidural PCA or intravenous PCA. Nurses participating in the study were assigned as caregivers to the 20 patients. Main outcome measures: Pain and sedation were assessed using 10‐cm visual analogue scales completed by both the patient and the patient's nurse twice daily on the way of surgery and on the I st and 2nd postoperative days. Results: No significant correlation was found between the nurses' and patients' pain or sedation scores. Chi‐square analysis showed that the nurse was as likely to underestimate as to overestimate the patient's pain score. The nurse underestimated the patient's sedation score 85% of the time. Conclusions: The results suggest that nurses' and patients' assessments of pain and sedation differ. The routine use of a standardized self‐assessment tool. such as the visual analogue scale, is recommended to ensure that analgesic treatment is based on the subjective nature of the patient's pain experience rather than the nurse's judgment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-141
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics
  • Critical Care
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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