Initiating and Sustaining a Standardized Pain Management Program in Long-Term Care Facilities

Cynthia E. Keeney, Jennifer A. Scharfenberger, James G. O'Brien, Stephen Looney, Mark P. Pfeifer, Carla P. Hermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Objectives: To identify current pain management practices in the long-term care setting; and, implement and evaluate a comprehensive pain management program in the long-term care setting. Design: An interventional pilot study. Setting: Community-based long-term care facilities. Methods: This study was conducted in two phases. Phase I consisted of interviewing long-term care facility administrators to ascertain current pain management policies and practices. This information was used to develop the Phase II intervention that involved collecting benchmark data, creating or modifying pain policies and procedures, implementing a pain management program and presenting educational programs. Measurements: Interviews with long term care administrators; facility and resident demographic data; chart audits for pain assessment and management data; pharmacy audits; telephone surveys. Results: Pain management policies and practices were inadequate prior to the study intervention. No facilities had policies or procedures that required ongoing (daily, weekly, etc.) pain assessment. Only one facility had mechanisms in place for measuring the presence or intensity of pain in their non-verbal, cognitively-impaired residents. Following the pain management program intervention, pain assessment significantly increased. and treatment for pain was provided for the vast majority of those indicating pain. All sites had a standardized pain assessment program in place one-year post-study completion. Conclusions: Standardized pain management programs are critical to improving pain management in long-term care settings. Improvement in long-term care pain management can be obtained through a comprehensive pain management program that involves staff education, changes in pain policies and procedures, and identifying pain management as a quality indicator.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-353
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • Pain management
  • geriatrics
  • long-term care
  • nursing homes
  • pain assessment
  • quality improvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Health Policy
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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