Nursing diagnosis: chronic pain. Critical analysis of its defining characteristics

Section: Revisiones

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Villarreal Fernández N, Meneses Monroy A. Diagnóstico de Enfermería: dolor crónico. Análisis crítico de sus características definitorias. Metas Enferm feb 2020; 23(1):72-8. Doi:


Natalia Villarreal Fernández1, Alfonso Meneses Monroy2


1Enfermera. Hospital Infanta Sofía. Madrid2Doctor por la Universidad Complutense. Facultad de Enfermería, Fisioterapia y Podología. Departamento de Enfermería. Universidad Complutense de Madrid

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Alfonso Meneses Monroy. Facultad de Enfermería, Fisioterapia y Podología. Plz. de Ramón y Cajal, 3. Edificio Facultad de Medicina, 3ª planta. 28040 Ma

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Objective: a critical analysis of the defining characteristics described in the Nursing Diagnosis [00133] Chronic Pain, according to the NANDA taxonomy.
Method: a narrative review of the defining characteristics of the diagnosis and their relationship with it. A bibliographic search was conducted in different databases: Cinahl, Pubmed, Cuiden, Scopus, Dialnet and Scielo.
The following keywords were used: “chronic pain”, “diagnosis” and “nursing”. The search was limited to publications within the past five years, in Spanish and English.
Results: chronic pain is a global public health problem which persists during a period over three months. Chronic pain is not only considered a symptom but a disease, associated with alterations in the physical, psychological, emotional, occupational, social and sexual settings. In terms of the psychological and emotional aspect, there is a prevalence of depression, anxiety and fear, which can lead to disability. The defining characteristics found in the Chronic Pain Nursing Diagnosis were: “Altered ability to continue previous activities”, “Changes in Sleep Pattern”, “Self-focused”, “Anorexia”, “Reports, self-reports and check-lists as defining characteristics of diagnosis”.
Conclusions: it is necessary to review the characteristics defining “Altered ability to continue previous activities” and “Anorexia”, because no evidence was found that these were really characteristics identifying this diagnosis. The inclusion of “Fear of Pain” must be assessed, with the aim to help to identify this diagnosis more easily.


Nusing diagnosis; chronic pain; NANDA taxonomydefining characteristics.

Versión en Español


Diagnóstico de Enfermería: dolor crónico. Análisis crítico de sus características definitorias