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01-09-2007 | Brief Communication | Uitgave 7/2007

Quality of Life Research 7/2007

Emergency physicians’ pain judgments: cluster analyses on scenarios of acute abdominal pain

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 7/2007
Laetitia Marquié, Paul C. Sorum, Etienne Mullet


Physicians have been found to give lower ratings of patients’ pain than do the patients themselves. We hypothesized that the physicians’ rating depends not only on the patient’s pain rating but also on other cues. We also hypothesized that these cues influence physicians’ pain treatment and urgency level. We gave to 52 emergency room physicians in Toulouse, France, 45 scenarios describing patients with acute abdominal pain, representing all combinations of 5 levels of patient’s pain rating, 3 levels of behavioral manifestations of pain, and three signs of the severity of the abdominal pathology (namely, the likelihood of appendicitis). The participants rated the patient’s pain, selected the intensity of pain treatment, and judged the degree of urgency of calling in a surgeon. In rating pain, physicians took into account the patient’s rating, behavioral manifestations of pain, and the signs of abdominal pathology. Clusters analyses showed two sets of individual differences. When rating pain and choosing pain treatment, physicians gave either a low or high weight to behavioral pain cues. In urgency judgments, physicians could be separated into those who gave considerable weight to the different levels of severity and those who did not.

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