JOURNAL ARTICLE

Validation of the COMFORT Behavior scale and the FLACC scale for pain assessment in Chinese children after cardiac surgery

Jinbing Bai, Lily Hsu, Yan Tang, Monique van Dijk
Pain Management Nursing: Official Journal of the American Society of Pain Management Nurses 2012, 13 (1): 18-26
22341137
Appropriate pain assessment plays a key role in understanding the pain status of critically ill children. However, the utility of the face, legs, activity, cry, consolability (FLACC) scale and the COMFORT Behavior (COMFORT-B) scale have not been extensively explored for children after cardiac surgery in China. A repeated-observation study was conducted to evaluate the concurrent validity and the sensitivity and specificity of the COMFORT-B and FLACC scales for pain assessment after cardiac surgery in 0-7-year-old patients. Patients were assessed with the observational visual analog scale (VASobs), FLACC scale, and COMFORT-B scale simultaneously at 18 fixed time periods for 3 days. Correlations among pain assessments were computed to calculate concurrent validity. Receiver operating characteristic curve analyses identified the FLACC and COMFORT-B scores that could best discriminate pain and no pain based on the VASobs. Multiple regression analyses were performed with FLACC and COMFORT-B pain scores as dependent variables and disease-related treatment characteristics as predictor variables for conducting the analysis. A total of 170 children (98 boys and 72 girls) were included. Significantly positive correlations, ranging from 0.31 to 0.86, were found among the COMFORT-B, FLACC, and VASobs pain assessment instruments. The COMFORT-B and the FLACC scores for children assessed to be in pain (i.e., VASobs ≥4), were significantly higher than scores for children not in pain (VASobs <4). COMFORT-B showed good sensitivity (86%) and specificity (83%) with a cutoff point of 13. FLACC showed excellent sensitivity (98%) and good specificity (88%) for a cutoff point of 2. The COMFORT-B and FLACC scales seem to be useful tools in pain assessment for Chinese children at postcardiac surgery stages, but the study identified that this group of children demonstrated a lower cutoff point for pain than originally set for these two instruments.

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