A Systematic Assessment of Pain – SOCRATES

The acronym SOCRATES can be used as a systematic method of assessment to complaints of pain. 

Site – Where is the pain located?

Onset – When did it start and how? Gradual, intermittent, rapid, etc.

Character – Describe the pain (stabbing, dull, tight, sore, etc.).

Radiation – Does the pain spread into other areas? 

Associated symptoms – Nausea, vomiting, jaundice, etc.

Timing – Does it occur after specific activities or actions? 

Exacerbating or relieving factors – What makes it worse? Breathing, moving, sitting, etc. 

Surgical history – Previous surgeries or interventions? 



Oxford American Handbook of Surgery 

Edited by David L. Berger, MD with Greg McLatchie, Neil Borley, & Joanna Chikwe

Oxford University Press, 2009.


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