Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Nursing Best Practice Guidelines

Assessment of Pain: Questions to Consider during Assessment of Pain (PQRST)

Identify Location of Pain

Ask: Where is your pain? Is there more than one site?

Identify PQRST characteristics:

P - provocating and precipitating factors, relieving factors


  • What makes your pain worse?
  • What makes your pain better?
  • What previous treatment have you tried to relieve your pain?
  • Were they effective?

Q - quality of pain (eg. burning, stabbing, gnawing, shooting, lancinating)


  • What does your pain feel like?
  • What words would you use to describe your pain?

R - radiation


  • Does the pain move anywhere?

S - severity (use an appropriate intensity scale - see Appendix E)


  • On a scale of 0 to 10 with O being no pain and 10 being the worst pain you can imagine, how much does it hurt right now?
  • How much does it hurt at it’s worst?
  • How much does it hurt at it’s best?

T - timing


  • When did your pain start?
  • How often does it occur?
  • Has its intensity changed?
  • How long does it last?