Pain distress: the negative emotion associated with procedures in ICU patients

Kathleen A. Puntillo, Adeline Max, Jean Francois Timsit, Stephane Ruckly, Gerald Chanques, Gemma Robleda, Ferran Roche-Campo, Jordi Mancebo, Jigeeshu V. Divatia, Marcio Soares, Daniela C. Ionescu, Ioana M. Grintescu, Salvatore Maurizio Maggiore, Katerina Rusinova, Radoslaw Owczuk, Ingrid Egerod, Elizabeth D.E. Papathanassoglou, Maria Kyranou, Gavin M. Joynt, Gaston BurghiRoss C. Freebairn, Kwok M. Ho, Anne Kaarlola, Rik T. Gerritsen, Jozef Kesecioglu, Miroslav M.S. Sulaj, Michelle Norrenberg, Dominique D. Benoit, Myriam S.G. Seha, Akram Hennein, Fernando J. Pereira, Julie S. Benbenishty, Fekri Abroug, Andrew Aquilina, Julia R.C. Monte, Youzhong An, Elie Azoulay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The intensity of procedural pain in intensive care unit (ICU) patients is well documented. However, little is known about procedural pain distress, the psychological response to pain. Methods: Post hoc analysis of a multicenter, multinational study of procedural pain. Pain distress was measured before and during procedures (0–10 numeric rating scale). Factors that influenced procedural pain distress were identified by multivariable analyses using a hierarchical model with ICU and country as random effects. Results: A total of 4812 procedures were recorded (3851 patients, 192 ICUs, 28 countries). Pain distress scores were highest for endotracheal suctioning (ETS) and tracheal suctioning, chest tube removal (CTR), and wound drain removal (median [IQRs] = 4 [1.6, 1.7]). Significant relative risks (RR) for a higher degree of pain distress included certain procedures: turning (RR = 1.18), ETS (RR = 1.45), tracheal suctioning (RR = 1.38), CTR (RR = 1.39), wound drain removal (RR = 1.56), and arterial line insertion (RR = 1.41); certain pain behaviors (RR = 1.19–1.28); pre-procedural pain intensity (RR = 1.15); and use of opioids (RR = 1.15–1.22). Patient-related variables that significantly increased the odds of patients having higher procedural pain distress than pain intensity were pre-procedural pain intensity (odds ratio [OR] = 1.05); pre-hospital anxiety (OR = 1.76); receiving pethidine/meperidine (OR = 4.11); or receiving haloperidol (OR = 1.77) prior to the procedure. Conclusions: Procedural pain has both sensory and emotional dimensions. We found that, although procedural pain intensity (the sensory dimension) and distress (the emotional dimension) may closely covary, there are certain factors than can preferentially influence each of the dimensions. Clinicians are encouraged to appreciate the multidimensionality of pain when they perform procedures and use this knowledge to minimize the patient’s pain experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1493-1501
Number of pages9
JournalIntensive Care Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018


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