Nurses’ knowledge and attitudes towards pain assessment for people with dementia in a nursing home setting.

Michelle Burns, Sonja McIlfatrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


Aim: The aim of this study was to determine nurses’ knowledge and attitudes towards pain assessment for people with dementia in a nursing home setting.Background: Pain is highly prevalent among older people, yet is often under recognised and under treated in people with dementia. People with dementia can lose the ability to report pain and it is the role of the nurse to identify and appropriately assess pain in order to provide effective treatment. This requires nurses to have sufficient knowledge and training in the assessment and management of pain, however research suggests deficits in this area.Methods: A cross sectional survey design was used to determine nurses’ knowledge and attitudes to pain assessment in dementia. A questionnaire comprising three sections was distributed to 96 registered nurses located across 17 nursing homes in a health care trust in a region in the UK. Results: A total of 32 responses were obtained (response rate 33%). The majority of nurses had a good knowledge in relation to the assessment and management of pain in residents with dementia. There was, however, some uncertainty amongst nurses over analgesic choice; the safety of opioid use in dementia; and the use of dementia specific pain assessment tools for residents with no cognitive impairment. The main barriers to effective pain assessment for older people with dementia were work load pressures, poor staffing and lack of medical support. Conclusion: This study highlighted the need to develop pain education programmes and clear guidance specifically designed for nurses caring for older people with dementia. It also emphasised the need for better communication
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-485
JournalInternational Journal of Palliative Nursing
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2015



  • Dementia
  • nursing home
  • pain assessment
  • knowledge
  • older people and attitudes.

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