Little research has examined the care older people receive in the acute surgical setting. Although pain assessment and management are judged to be a priority in nursing, often pain, in older people, is undermanaged for a variety of reasons. Factors such as stoicism, communication and ageism can shape both the patients' and nurses' attitude towards the perception of pain which subsequently affects pain management. Through a review of the literature, this paper aims to: (i) identify how healthcare professionals contribute to the assessment and control of postoperative pain in older people and (ii) explore potential barriers to achieving more advantageous pain control in this group. It is suggested that to improve pain management there is a need to individualise pain assessment for older people and to assist clinicians with enhancing their education and decision-making abilities in this field. This may best be achieved by supporting a programme of change to develop the skills of staff and encouraging learning through reflective practice. There is however a need for further research in this area.
- older people
- pain assessment