The following is a summary of “Survey of Nurses’ Use of the Clinically Aligned Pain Assessment (CAPA) Tool” published in the November 2022 issue of Pain Management by Hagstrom et al.

There is scant literature on methods for gauging pain and its impact on function in the intensive care unit. The goal of this study is to provide a description of how nurses at a hospital where Clinically Aligned Pain Assessment (CAPA) has been in use for 6 years compared it to the numeric rating scale (NRS) in assessing pain, and how they felt about its usefulness. Conceived as a self-reporting cross-sectional survey. The purpose of this study was to learn from nurses (N=110) working in 13 adult inpatient units at an academic center how often they use CAPA and NRS.

what CAPA domains they record, and how they inquire about pain and differentiate between categories when coding for documentation. Estimates of the tools’ usefulness were also presented. In most cases, nurses utilized CAPA regularly, and nearly half also occasionally used the NRS. They agreed that both instruments were useful for gauging the state of affairs, but that CAPA was superior at pinpointing the precise form of action that was required. Additionally, most nurses said they incorporated their observations into the CAPA record because they thought it increased the likelihood that a patient report utilizing CAPA would match the nurse’s assessment.

Of those who inquired as to the patient’s level of discomfort, the vast majority did not use the acronym CAPA’s particular phrases. Which domains were routinely measured and how nurses choose which category to choose when assessing patients’ level of comfort were 2 examples of areas where practice variation was seen. Despite the widespread confidence in CAPA’s efficacy, there was considerable heterogeneity in how it was actually utilized to assess and document pain, increasing the possibility of inconsistent assessments of pain and pain management.