BACKGROUND: Past research has revealed that insufficient pain assessment could, and often, has negative implications on the provision of quality health care. While current available clinical approaches have proven to be valid interventions, they are expensive and can often fail in providing efficient pain measurements. The increase in the prevalence of pain calls for more intuitive pain assessment solutions. Computerized alternatives have already been proposed both in the literature and in commerce, but may lack essential qualities such as accuracy of the collected clinical information and effective patient-clinician interaction. In response to this concern, 3-dimensional (3D) technology could become the innovative intervention needed to support and improve the pain assessment process.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this analysis was to describe qualitative findings from a study which was designed to explore patients' perceptions of adopting 3D technology in the assessment of their pain experience related to important themes that might positively or negatively influence the quality of the pain assessment process.
METHODS: The perceptions of 60 individuals with some form of pain in the area of Greater London were collected through semi-structured interviews. Of the 60 respondents, 24 (43%) produced usable responses and were analyzed for content using principles of the grounded theory approach and thematic analysis, in order to gain insight into the participants' beliefs and attitudes towards adopting 3D technology in pain assessment.
RESULTS: The analysis identified 4 high-level core themes that were representative of the participants' responses. These themes indicated that most respondents valued "the potential of 3D technology to facilitate better assessment of pain" as the most useful outcome of adopting a 3D approach. Respondents also expressed their opinions on the usability of the 3D approach, with no important concerns reported about its perceived ease of use. Our findings finally, showed that respondents appreciated the perceived clinical utility of the proposed approach, which could further have an influence on their intention to use it.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings highlighted factors that are seen as essential for improving the assessment of pain, and demonstrated the need for a strong focus on patient-clinician communication. The participants of this analysis believed that the introduction of 3D technology in the process might be a useful mechanism for such a positive health care outcome. The study's findings could also be used to make recommendations concerning the potential for inclusion of 3D technology in current clinical pain tools for the purpose of improving the quality of health care.
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