Introduction to Assessment Tools

Every patient has the right to effective treatment for pain and symptoms. PCOC uses five clinical assessment tools to help identify and manage these common symptoms. The tools also allow the effectiveness of treatments to be evaluated and, importantly, they help patients, carers and families to communicate their experiences and preferences with their clinicians. Here you can find information on each of the PCOC assessment tools and how they can help in managing pain and distress.

Symptom Assessment Scale (SAS)

The Symptom Assessment Scale is a patient-rated tool that clinicians use to measure the amount of distress caused by seven of the most common symptoms in palliative care. Clinicians need to know how bothered, worried or distressed patients are by each of the systems in order to effectively manage their pain. A clinician asks the patient to rate their distress relating to each of the seven symptoms on a scale from 0 to 10, 0 being absent and 10 being severe.

Palliative Care Phase

Phase is used to describe the distinct stage in the patient’s journey. Phases are classified according to the clinical need of the patient and their family and carers. Phases may not be sequential and a patient may move back and forth between phases.

Palliative Care Problem Severity Score (PCPSS)

The PCPSS is a clinician rated score of palliative care problems that provides a summary measure of problems in four domains: pain, other symptoms, psychological/spiritual and family/carer. The four scores of PCPSS are

Absent – 0
Mild – 1
Moderate – 2
Severe – 3

Functional Assessment in Palliative Care (RUG-ADL & AKPS)

The Resource Utilisation Groups – Activities of Daily Living (RUG-ADL) is a 4-item scale measuring motor function with activities of daily living: bed mobility, toileting, transfer and eating. The assessment is based on what the person does, not what they are capable of doing. It informs us about the patient’s functional status, the assistance they require to carry out these activities and the resources needed for the patient’s care.

The Australia-modified Karnofsky Performance Status (AKPS) Scale is a measure of the patient’s performance across the dimensions of activity, work and self-care at phase start. It is a single score between 10 and 100 assigned by a clinician based on observations of a patient’s ability to perform common tasks relating to activity, work and self-care.

Last reviewed: 5 September, 2018