Survey of Nurses’ Use of the Clinically Aligned Pain Assessment (CAPA) Tool



      Limited research is available on tools for assessing pain and its effect on function in the acute care setting.


      This research's purpose is to describe nurses’ use of the Clinically Aligned Pain Assessment (CAPA) tool and their beliefs about its utility for assessing pain compared to the numeric rating scale (NRS) in a hospital where CAPA had been used for 6 years.


      A cross-sectional self-report survey.


      Nurses (N = 110) from 13 adult inpatient units in an academic center participated in this survey describing frequency of CAPA and NRS use, CAPA domains documented, and how nurses asked about pain and distinguished between categories when coding for documentation. Beliefs about the tools’ effectiveness were also reported.


      Most nurses used CAPA routinely for assessments; almost half used the NRS at times. They believed both tools were effective for assessment, but CAPA was more effective to determine what intervention was needed. They also believed patient report using CAPA was more likely to match the nurse's assessment; a majority reported incorporating their observations into CAPA documentation. Most asked the patient about pain without using CAPA words, although many used the specific words. Practice varied in how nurses determined which category to select in the comfort domain and which domains were assessed routinely.


      Although many nurses believed CAPA was effective, variation existed in how it was used to assess and document pain, increasing potential for inconsistent assessments and interpretations of pain and pain management.
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