New Tool to Measure the Pain Experience

People who are in chronic pain need more than just help for the body. Studies have shown pain is related to patient beliefs, attitudes, and emotions. This new way to treat chronic pain is called the biopsychosocial approach. In this study a new measurement tool for pain based on psychosocial factors is reviewed. It's called the Profile of Chronic Pain: Extended Assessment Battery or PCP:EA.

There are already many measurement tools in use to study pain. So far there isn't one to fit all patients. This instrument was designed to be used with adults of all backgrounds from ages 25 to 80. Results considered 'normal' are listed by age and gender.

The PCP:EA is a series of 86 questions that can be asked over the phone or answered on paper. Many aspects of pain are included. The survey begins with a description of the pain along with location and severity. Overall health and use of medications come next. Patient beliefs about disability, control, and a medical cure are also included. A total of 20 groups of questions are asked.

The authors compared the questions and results of the PCP:EA against several other similar tests. They reviewed the methods and calculations used. This is a way to establish the validity of a new tool. Validity refers to how well a tool measures what it says it will measure.

The authors report the PCP:EA is a useful indicator of attitudes, beliefs, and social responses to pain. More study will be done to find out if the PCP:EA can predict psychosocial status six months to a year later. They will also try to see if before and after testing is sensitive to change. The authors suggest researchers and clinicians should continue to use currently available instruments until this one is fully ready.

Linda S. Ruehlman, et al. The Development and Preliminary Validation of the Profile of Chronic Pain: Extended Assessment Battery. In Pain. December 5, 2005. Vol. 118. No. 3. Pp. 380-389.

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