Assessment Tools & Clinical Guidelines

Assessment Tools

Pain assessment tools are in the public domain and are available to all health care providers to assist them in better understanding the impact of pain on a person.

Single-dimensional pain scales

Single-dimensional scales only measure pain intensity and are useful in acute pain when the etiology is clear. They provide a baseline and ongoing subjective measurement of a patient’s pain intensity score over time. Source.

  • Numeric pain scale 
  • Visual analogue scale
  • Verbal pain scale
  • Wong Baker Faces Pain Rating Scale

Simple Descriptive Pain Scale

Pain Rating Scale

Multi-dimensional tools

Multi-dimensional assessment tools provide a reliable validated method on the multidimensional impact of pain on function and/or quality of life. These measure the intensity, nature, location and include some or all the potential impact on function, activity, mood and sleep.

Specialized tools

There are specific tools which provide reliable validated information on the presence of psychological and functional impact and disability, sleep and coping strategies, and identify neuropathic pain. Not all health care providers are qualified to administer or interpret the scores of these tools and some licensing provincial associations may have guidelines or rules for their members to follow on the use of these tools due to liability. Use caution when using tools typically used outside your profession: There can be unintended consequences, especially with some of the psychological assessment tools if they are administered by those without sufficient experience or expertise in mental health.

Population-specific tools

There are numerous assessment tools available that are specific to conditions and populations. Here are just a few examples.

Multilingual assessment tools