Pain assessment 'insufficient' for dementia patients, researchers say

Caregivers have no reliable means to gauge pain in dementia patients, university researchers maintain while calling for new methods to assess chronic pain in those populations.

While verbalizing experienced pain levels is the gold standard for caregiver assessments, no such standard exists for dementia patients, researchers in the United Kingdom and New York reported in the journal BMC Geriatrics.

The study examined the various assessment tools available to caregivers, leading them to conclude “current evidence on validation and clinical utility of the tools is insufficient.”

The findings are particularly troublesome for those caring for dementia patients, as many as half of whom experience chronic pain, according to the Annals of Long-Term Care

“Recognition and assessment of pain in older adults with dementia are difficult, as these patients are often unable to verbalize pain to caregivers,” the journal noted this week.

Study authors called for development of “new conceptual foundations or conduct studies to provide a basis of psychometric evidence of existing tools.”

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