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J Educ Eval Health Prof > Epub ahead of print
J Educ Eval Health Prof. 2020; 17: 38.
Published online December 1, 2020.
[Epub ahead of print]
Differences in nurses’ perceptions of self-reported pain and the administered morphine dose according to the patient’s facial expression in Korea
Jeong Yun Park1  , Da In Lee2 
1Department of Clinical Nursing, University of Ulsan, Seoul, Korea
2Department of Nursing, Seoil University, Seoul, Korea
Correspondence  Jeong Yun Park ,Email:
Editor:  Sun Huh, Hallym University, Korea
Submitted: October 28, 2020  Accepted after revision: November 1, 2020
This study aimed to compare nurses’ perceptions of self-reported pain, the recorded pain score, and pain treatment according to the patient’s facial expression.
In this descriptive cross-sectional survey, the participants were 482 nurses working at a tertiary hospital in Seoul, Korea. A self-report questionnaire presented nurses with a smiling patient complaining of acute post-surgical pain and a grimacing patient with cancer pain, both of whom reported a pain level of 8 out of 10, and asked nurses to indicate their perception of the pain intensity, the pain score that they would record, and the medication that they would provide for each patient.
The pain intensity perceived by nurses for the grimacing patient was significantly higher than that for the smiling patient (P<0.001). The recorded pain score was likewise significantly higher for the grimacing patient than for the smiling patient (P<0.001). There was a significant difference in the amount of morphine chosen by the nurses for pain interventions between the smiling and grimacing patients (P=0.040). Higher perceived pain intensity and score were associated with higher administered doses of morphine.
These findings suggest that nurses might be affected by patients’ facial expressions when treating pain. A pain management program should be developed that trains nurses to accurately recognize pain hidden in patients’ faces and provides them with the knowledge of how to appropriately assess and manage patients’ pain.
Keywords: Cancer pain; Facial expression; Morphine; Pain management; Republic of Korea
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