Frequency and use of pain assessment tools implemented in randomized controlled trials in the adult burns population: A systematic review Academic Article uri icon


  • INTRODUCTION: Pain continues to be an ongoing issue of concern in adult burn patients. Inadequate pain assessment hinders meaningful research, and prevents the optimal management of burn pain. The objective of this study was to examine the content of existing research in burn pain with the frequency and context of pain assessment tool use in randomized clinical trials in order to further inform their use for future researchers and clinicians. METHODS: Electronic searches of MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE and The Cochrane Library databases from 1966 onwards were used to identify English articles related to clinical trials utilising pain assessment in adult burns patients. RESULTS: The systematic literature search identified 25 randomized clinical trials utilising pain assessment tools. Unidimensional pain assessment tools were most frequently used pain assessment tools, with multidimensional tools used less often, despite the multifaceted and complex nature of burn pain. CONCLUSION: The review highlights the lack of consistency of pain assessment tool use in randomized clinical trials with respect to managing burn pain. We recommend a broader but consistent use of multidimensional pain assessment tools for researchers undertaking clinical trials in this field. The review supports the need for an international expert consensus to identify the necessary critical outcomes and domains for clinicians and researchers undertaking further research into burn pain.


  • Mahar, Patrick D
  • Wasiak, Jason
  • O’Loughlin, Christopher J
  • Christelis, Nicholas
  • Arnold, Carolyn A
  • Spinks, Anneliese B
  • Danilla, Stefan

publication date

  • March 2012

published in