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Visualisation of Question 6 in the Explain Pain Assessment Eight Great Questions

By Noigroup HQ Education for all 20 Jul 2018

Infographic 6 - what is the learners current pain literacy

Let’s talk about Question 6 in The Explain Pain Assessment Eight Great Questions – what is the learner’s current pain literacy?

Health literacy is the ability to seek, understand and utilise health information. By extension, pain literacy is the degree to which a person is able to obtain and process pain-related health information. It’s not easy to determine an individual’s pain literacy – but there are a few questions to add that will help you form a sense of where a patient might be coming from. No surprises – the key is to listen, really listen, to the responses:

Tell me what you understand about the problem.

What’s your theory about what is making you hurt?

What do you know about your diagnosis?

How do you think I can help?

Most patients have answers to these questions, although it can take some careful and respectful questioning to elicit them as some people will be worried about being made to look silly (perhaps based on past experience within the health system).

But caveat questioner – here’s a common response that we’ve found – I don’t know what’s causing it – you’re supposed to be the expert… You’ve probably heard this from time to time. We might respond, respectfully, with something like:

Thanks! But why have you chosen to see me and not another kind of expert? 

Thanks! I am also very interested in what you think is going on because this is a really helpful indicator of how your brain will be processing all kinds of information from, and about, your body

That last response is also a gentle way to start introducing some Explain Pain content.

What’s your experience of patients’ health literacy? Comments are welcome below.


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