Comparison of a pain tolerability question with the numeric rating scale for assessment of self-reported chronic pain

Review written by Dr Sandy Hilton info

Key Points

  1. Pain tolerability inversely correlates to the pain numeric rating scale.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

The debate on the helpfulness of the pain numeric rating scale has been going on for a long time and is yet to be resolved. Patients have reported that the scale reduces and depersonalizes their pain, and some argue that the scale should be abandoned entirely (1). A conflicting tension has been the need for the anchor of a numeric rating scale for use in research.

The authors of this study addressed the challenges of a numeric scale from a patient perspective. The study explored a tolerability question to “align patients’ expectations with realistic treatment goals” (2).

Patients have reported that the pain numeric rating scale reduces and depersonalizes their pain.
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It should not simply be the goal of a person to be a 0/10 on a pain scale.

METHODS

Participants were recruited electronically out of 157 primary practices. All patients had a pain-related diagnosis. They were asked the pain tolerability question (PTQ) - “Is your pain tolerable?” (Yes, No, or Not in Pain) - and to rate their average

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