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Numeric Rating Scale (NRS) Instructions

Instructions detailing the use of the numeric rating scale (NRS) to assess pain intensity for persons able to self report: 


 Purpose:   To assess pain intensity in persons who are able to self report.1
 When to Use:
  1. At initial intake/admission to services
  2. For an older adult in pain, assess at least every 8 hours an older adult in pain, assess at least every 8 hours 
  3. Any time a change in pain status is reported
  4. One hour following a pain intervention to assess effectiveness
  5. For older adults residing in long term health care settings, assessments should be completed at each quarterly review 
 How to Use: Ask individual to point to the number on the Numeric Rating Scale that best represents the intensity of their pain NOW
 Documentation: Document/record all scores in a location that is readily accessible by others on the health care team.

To use as a pocket guide, print the NRS and directions document front to back on card stock paper to create two tools. Cut to size and laminate for increased durability.


1  Self-report of pain is defined as the ability to indicate presence and/or severity of pain verbally, in writing, or by other means such as finger span, pointing, head movement, or blinking eyes to answer yes or no questions.


Open PDF version.


​​ Reviewed and Updated 9.7.15​