Similarities in pain descriptions of four different ethnic-culture groups

Fannie Gaston Johansson, Marci Albert, Ellen Fagan, Lani Zimmerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to identify pain terms commonly used by Hispanics, American Indians, blacks, and whites to describe painlike experiences. Subjects were asked to rate the intensity of the termspain, ache, andhurt on a Visual Analogue Scale. Following this procedure, they were given three separate copies of the McGill Pain Questionnaire and asked to choose the words that represented pain, ache, and hurt, respectively. The result showed that all cultural groups rated pain as the most intense terms, followed by hurt; ache was rated least intense. There was a significant difference between the intensity level of the three terms (p <0.001). Word descriptors that distinguished pain from ache and hurt are presented. The importance of these findings for clinical practice is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-100
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nurse-Midwifery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • ethnic-culture group
  • Pain descriptions
  • pain ratings
  • pain semantics


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