Managing Pain

Dr. Paul Wilson of Grenfell College and Sheila Parsons and Colleen Anderson of Western Regional School of Nursing studied the pain management issue and conducted a research study using an analog pain scale, the use of which has been implemented throughout the western region. Missing from photo is Dr. Francine LeMire.

In existence for less than one year, the Community, Hospital and University Research Group already has one influential study under its belt. The group was formed with the assistance of the Research Office of Grenfell to foster stronger health-related research collaboration in the region.

The new group, established August 2003, is the successor to an earlier informal group that met to discuss common research interests. They had tackled the universal problem of pain assessment and management. So far, their research seems to have been successful. Western Memorial Regional Hospital's Emergency Room wanted the issue of pain management addressed by the new committee - how could physicians and nurses improve on the way a patient's pain levels are measured and monitored?

"Dr. Francine LeMire identified the problem and was interested in how they might manage pain better," said Dr. Paul Wilson, chair of the collaborative committee, which aims to build health sector research capacity in the Western Newfoundland region. The group will also identify research needs and opportunities in the health care system and develop and advance research/project proposals and applications to various internal and external funding agencies.

A research team comprising Dr. Wilson, Dr. LeMire, and Colleen Anderson and Sheila Parsons of Western Regional School of Nursing studied the pain management issue and conducted a research study using an analog pain scale, the use of which has been implemented throughout the western region.

Through workshops and interventions with ER staff, the team introduced the scale, which allows the patients to better communicate the pain they are feeling.

"It involves an 11-point scale, where patients are asked when they come in where their pain is on that scale," explained Dr. Wilson. "Then ER staff members work with the patient to find a level where the pain is manageable."

Dr. Wilson has since conducted exit and follow-up patient satisfaction surveys, both of which showed that ER patients were reporting a higher level of satisfaction with how their pain was managed.

Other studies are currently being planned, he said, and the group is ready to receive proposals from anyone needing assistance in conducting health-related research.

"We're hoping if physicians, nurses and other health professionals have research questions and don't have time to deal with them or don't know how to approach them, this group will help them design and conduct the research, data analysis or whatever else is needed," he said.

Partner organizations include Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Western Health Care Corporation, Health and Community Services Western, and Western Regional School of Nursing.