during pain assessment in persons unable to self-report, such as people living with dementia, vocalisations are commonly used as pain indicators. However, there is a lack of evidence from clinical practice regarding their diagnostic value and relationship with pain. We aimed to explore vocalisations and pain in people with dementia undergoing pain assessments in clinical practice settings. Methods

a total of 22,194 pain assessments were reviewed in people with dementia (n = 3,144) from 34 different Australian aged care homes and two dementia specific programs. Pain assessments were conducted by 389 purposely trained health care professionals and cares using PainChek pain assessment tool. Vocalised expressions were determined based on nine vocalisation features included in the tool. Linear mixed models were used to examine the relationship of pain scores with vocalisation features. Using a single pain assessment for each of the 3,144 people with dementia, additional data analysis was conducted via Receiver Operator Characteristic (ROC) analysis and Principal Component Analysis. Results

vocalisation scores increased with increasing pain intensity. High pain scores were more likely with the presence of sighing and screaming (8 times). The presence of vocalisation features varied depending on the intensity of pain. The ROC optimal criterion for the voice domain yielded a cut-off score of ≥2.0 with a Youden index of 0.637. The corresponding sensitivity and specificity were 79.7% [confidence interval (CI): 76.8–82.4%] and 84.0% (CI: 82.5–85.5%), respectively. Conclusion

we describe vocalisation features during presence of different levels of pain in people with dementia unable to self-report, therefore providing evidence in regard to their diagnostic value in clinical practice.


vocalisation features, voice, pain assessment, pain levels, PainChek, older people

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