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Information on authorship and revision

Page last modified: 4 March 2016 13:29:39

Author(s): Australian Adult Cancer Pain Management Working Group


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S1. For all patients who are able to communicate their level of pain: At each clinical encounter, assess worst and average pain intensity during the previous 24 hours using a self-reported numerical rating scale from zero to 10, where zero represents ‘no pain’ and 10 represents ‘worst pain you can imagine’. (NCCN)

information Numerical rating scale for pain intensity

Verbal: What number describes your worst/average pain, where zero is no pain and ten is worst pain you can imagine.

Written: Please circle the number that best describes your worst/average pain over the past 24 hours:

Pain scale.png

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S2. For people who cannot self-report due to cognitive impairment: At each clinical encounter, use the Abbey Pain Scale. (Consensus) expand arrow

Recommended by the Australian Pain Society: Australian Pain Society. Residential Aged Care Facilities - Management Strategies. Sydney: Australian Pain Society; 2005. Available from: APS 2005.

Note Complete a comprehensive assessment if either of the following applies:

  • a new patient reports a pain score of 2 or more on self-reported numerical rating scale of zero to 10, or 3 or more on the Abbey Pain Scale
  • an existing patient reports a new pain or a sudden, unexpected change in intensity of pain.

Note Some people find it easier to rate their pain using pictures rather than numbers. See the Wong-Baker FACES® Pain Rating Scale (a pictorial scale available for download).


National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN clinical practice guidelines in oncology. Adult cancer pain. Version 2.2015: NCCN; 2015. Available from: