Pain assessment in vulnerable populations

Pain assessment in vulnerable populations

Principal speaker

Associate Professor Thomas Fisher


Pain assessment in vulnerable populations


Pain is a subjective experience and pain assessment relies mainly on the patient's self report. However, some patients may not always be able to verbally communicate whether they experience pain and how they perceive potential pain. This is often the case for patients with dementia and patients with delirium or older persons in general. Therefore, clinicians need to take a varied approach to the assessment of pain in these vulnerable populations to gain a good understanding of the biopsychosocial consequences of pain for the individual patient.

In this talk, current evidence for different approaches and instruments for pain assessments in older persons, patients with dementia and patients with delirium will be reviewed. Lessons learned from the European PAIC (Pain Assessment in Patients with Impaired Cognition) consortium and the development of an evidence-based guideline for pain assessment in older persons by the German Pain Society (English version currently under review) will be discussed. Knowledge gaps will be highlighted and emerging strategies for clinical practice and research will be presented.


Thomas Fischer is the Professor of Aged Care Nursing at Evangelische Hochschule Dresden - University of Applied Sciences (ehs), Dresden, Germany, where he is also responsible for the undergraduate and graduate programmes in nursing. He is also adjunct professor at the Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney. In 2019, he was invited to join SCIANA - The Health Leaders Network.

Dr. Fischer's main research focus is on pain in older persons. Research activities include the construction of instruments for pain assessment in older persons, especially those with dementia, and epidemiological studies on pain and pain management in nursing home settings. He helped develop guidelines on pain management in nursing and, as a steering committee member, draft an evidence-based interprofessional guideline on pain assessment in long-term care. His current work focuses in part on the improvement on pain assessment and pain management in persons with delirium. Among his other commitments, he is the chair of the German Pain Society's Special Interest Group on Pain in Older Persons, co-chair of the commission for the pain management curriculum for nurses, and a member of the German Pain Society's advisory board.


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