Prevalence and correlates of pain and pain treatment in a Western Kenya referral hospital

Kristin T.L. Huang, Claudio Owino, Gregory P. Gramelspacher, Patrick O. Monahan, Rebeka Tabbey, Mildred Hagembe, Robert M. Strother, Festus Njuguna, Rachel C. Vreeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Pain is often inadequately evaluated and treated in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Objective: We sought to assess pain levels and pain treatment in 400 hospitalized patients at a national referral hospital in western Kenya, and to identify factors associated with pain and pain treatment. Design: Using face-validated Kiswahili versions of two single-item pain assessment tools, the Numerical Rating Scale (NRS) and the Faces Pain Scale-Revised (FPS-R), we determined patients' pain levels. Additional data collected included patient demographics, prescribed analgesics, and administered analgesics. We calculated mean pain ratings and pain management index (PMI) scores. Results: Averaged between the NRS and FPS-R, 80.5% of patients endorsed a nonzero level of pain and 30% of patients reported moderate to severe pain. Older patients, patients with HIV, and cancer patients had higher pain ratings. Sixty-six percent of patients had been prescribed analgesics at some point during their hospitalization, the majority of which were nonopioids. A majority of patients (66%) had undertreated pain (negative scores on the PMI). Conclusion: This study shows that hospitalized patients in Kenya are experiencing pain and that this pain is often undertreated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1260-1267
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of palliative medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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