Measuring pain quality: validity and reliability of children's and adolescents' pain language

Diana J. Wilkie, William L. Holzemer, Mary D. Tesler, Judith Ann Ward, Steven M. Paul, Marilyn C. Savedra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Although considerable research has been conducted to identify children's and adolescent's language of pain, research is lacking regarding a method to quantify the pain quality described by this language. Three descriptive studies involving 1223 children, aged 8-17 years, were conducted in school and hospital settings. The aims were to develop and examine the validity and reliability of a word list for measuring pain quality that was free of age, gender, and ethnic biases. A word list with 43 words was developed and resulted in sensory, affective, evaluative, and total scores that correlated with pain location and pain intensity scores (r = 0.19-0.44; P ≤ 0.01). Pain quality scores decreased over time in a postoperative pain model. Test-retest reliability of the word list scores was high (r = 0.78-0.95; P < 0.001). This world list was revised and resulted in a word list with 56 words relatively free of gender, ethnic, and developmental biases. Additional research is needed to assess the psychometric properties of this world list in pediatric populations experiencing different pain syndromes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-159
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1990
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


  • (Adolescents)
  • (Children)
  • Assessment
  • Descriptors
  • Pain
  • Quality


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