HCAHPS Survey to Measure Pain Communication

Pain management in a geriatric nursing unit is a measure that significantly affects the overall performance indicators of the hospital. Thus, it is vital to address new ways in which patients’ satisfaction may be improved. The scenario’s details reveal some information about the unit’s activities on their path to quality change. For example, the run chart shows that nurses were engaged in a variety of learning exercises and that the data on patients’ pain assessment were collected regularly.

However, it also demonstrates that some of the areas were not covered sufficiently to influence nurses’ understanding, such as the issue of addiction. Moreover, the idea of continuous improvement is not introduced in the chart or educational practices.

As this approach is not utilized by the unit’s team, they may experience worsening results in the following months. The leadership should be wary of relying on these numbers since they do not represent the changing trends in healthcare. While the temporary increase in patients’ main assessment results may be a cause for some self-praise, the change should not be celebrated as a major event but recognized as a step towards sustainable growth.

Some of the practices present in the run chart can be linked to successful results. High levels of attendance and nurses’ active participation in practice experiences are signs that the medical professionals are interested in further improvement. Furthermore, the design of the plan suggests that nurses acquired both theoretical and practical knowledge that could help them in various situations when dealing with patients’ pain. Some topics include patient education and its importance, polypharmacy, and use of particular medications (NSAIDs) by older patients. According to Elliott et al. (2015), nursing education may play an important role in patients’ satisfaction scores.

Overall, the unit’s management engaged a variety of tools to raise the level of performance. Nurses attended lectures, discussed the strategies with the quality improvement team, participated in a journal club, practiced new tools on patients, and reviewed their results. One can see that the unit’s specialists employed multiple strategies for information delivery. Nonetheless, it is unclear whether the lectures were engaging since nurses were not asked about their interaction with the material. Poor attendance of the lecture on medication addiction signifies that nurses lacked the incentive to participate.

However, the program has some weaknesses, and it does not account for the changes in the HCAHPS survey contents. The run chart does not demonstrate the use of performance improvement tools that are centered on nurses’ communicative skills. New questions in the HCAHPS survey focus not on the aspect of pain management but its communication (Thompson, 2017). Therefore, the main statistics of patient assessment questionnaires may differ from those which the nurses of the unit have acquired previously.

The unit should focus on interaction with patients in order to assess and discuss their pain. Briggs et al. (2018) suggest a hybrid system that prioritizes talking to patients about their pain and other concerns in order to improve their experience in the hospital. Nurses should also remember that the geriatric unit’s indicators of pain management and communication may be low due to older patients’ comorbidities. Thus, their needs differ from those of younger patients, raising such concerns as overmedication and addiction. These issues should be covered in continuous efforts to educate nurses, and the unit should treat the present improvement as a small step to exceeding the national benchmark.


Briggs, K., Sharma, L., Chandrasekaran, A., Douglas, C., Aroh, D., & Finefrock, D. (2018). The effect of a hybrid training program: Improving nursing communication skills and HCAHPS scores. Nursing Management, 49(2), 51-53.

Elliott, M. N., Cohea, C. W., Lehrman, W. G., Goldstein, E. H., Cleary, P. D., Giordano, L. A.,… Zaslavsky, A. M. (2015). Accelerating improvement and narrowing gaps: Trends in patients’ experiences with hospital care reflected in HCAHPS public reporting. Health Services Research, 50(6), 1850-1867.

Thompson, C. A. (2017). HCAHPS survey to measure pain communication, not management. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, 74(23), 1924-1926.