Pain assessment and measurement in neonates: An updated review

Xiaomei Cong, Jacqueline M. McGrath, Regina M. Cusson, Di Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Pain assessment and measurement are the cornerstones of pain management. Pain assessment connotes a comprehensive multidimensional description. Conversely, pain measurement provides a numeric quantitative description of each factor illustrating pain qualities. Pain scales provide a composite score used to guide practice and research. The type of infant pain instrument chosen is a significant factor in guiding pain management practice. The purpose of this review was to summarize current infant pain measures by introducing a conceptual framework for pain measurement. Although more than 40 infant pain instruments exist, many were devised solely for research purposes; several of the newly developed instruments largely overlap with existing instruments. Integration of pain management into daily practice remains problematic. Understanding how each instrument measures infant pain allows clinicians to make better decisions about what instrument to use with which infant and in what circumstances. In addition, novel new measurement techniques need further testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-395
Number of pages17
JournalAdvances in Neonatal Care
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Assessment and measurement
  • Infant
  • Neonates
  • Pain
  • Pain tools and instruments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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