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How to measure pain in neurological conditions? A systematic review of psychometric properties and clinical utility of measurement tools

Lookup NU author(s): Philip Brown


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Objective: To systematically review the psychometric properties and clinical utility of measures of pain in neurological conditions. Data sources: Electronic databases (AMED, CINAHL, MEDLINE, PEDro and Web of Knowledge) were searched from their inception to February 2013. Review methods: Studies investigating any measurement tool to assess pain in central nervous system conditions were systematically identified. Data about their psychometric properties and clinical utility were extracted and analysed independently. The strength of the psychometric properties and clinical utility were assessed. Results: A total of 13 articles met the selection criteria, which assessed 11 measurement tools; eight pain rating scales; one Neuropathic Pain Scale; and two measures of pain interference with every-day life. Most of the pain rating scales were specifically for hemiplegic shoulder pain. None had been sufficiently developed to recommend for use in clinical practice or research. Evaluation of reliability and the ability to detect change were particularly sparse. Reliability depended on the type of tools used. Patients with right hemisphere damage favoured verbal/written responses, while people with left hemisphere damage preferred and reported more effectively using visual/numeric responses. Validity between measures of pain intensity was moderate, while validity with mood or quality of life was weak to moderate. Conclusion: None of the selected measures of pain have been fully developed or evaluated to demonstrate that they provide accurate, relevant reproducible information.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Tyson S, Brown P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Clinical Rehabilitation

Year: 2014

Volume: 28

Issue: 7

Pages: 669-686

Print publication date: 11/06/2014

Online publication date: 09/12/2013

Acceptance date: 02/11/2013

ISSN (print): 0269-2155

ISSN (electronic): 1477-0873

Publisher: Sage


DOI: 10.1177/0269215513514231


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