Acute and critical care patients experience significantly more pain than those patients on a general nursing unit. Due to the severity of their condition, acute care patients may be nonverbal and unable to self-report their pain. Behavioral pain assessment tools are a method of objectively measuring pain in patients who are unable to communicate. While the use of these tools has been shown to improve short- and long-term outcome for patients, there is a paucity of evidence as to nurses' perceptions related to their use. The purpose of this study is to investigate acute care nurses' perceptions of the relationship between the use of behavioral pain assessment tools and pain outcomes in nonverbal patients. A survey was developed to determine the perception of this relationship. A total of 23 acute and critical care nurses participated. The survey asked multiple perception-based questions related to pain assessment and management in nonverbal patients including but not limited to, the importance of pain assessment, the frequency of use of behavioral pain assessment tools, the use of pain scores in patient hand-off, and education related to behavioral pain assessment tools. Open ended questions were also posed inquiring as to participants perceptions of the effect of using behavioral pain assessment tools on pain assessment and pain outcomes. Survey results showed a majority (82.6%, n=19) of participants think the use of behavioral pain assessment tools improves pain assessment and outcomes. Participants reported they perceive the use of these tools allows for a thorough standardized assessment which allows for the objective evaluation of pain outcomes, and ultimately, effective pain relief.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Allred, Kelly


Peralta, Elizabeth


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)


College of Nursing





Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access

3 years

Release Date