Background: A new pain questionnaire should be simple, be documented to have discriminative function, and be related to previously used questionnaires.
Methods: Word meaning was validated by using bilingual Danish medical students and asking them to translate words taken from the Danish version of the McGill pain questionnaire into English. Evaluative word value was estimated using a visual analog scale (VAS). Discriminative function was assessed by having patients with one of six painful conditions (postherpetic neuralgia, phantom limb pain, rheumatoid arthritis, ankle fracture, appendicitis, or labor pain) complete the questionnaire.
Results: We were not able to find Danish words that were reliably back-translated to the English words ‘splitting’ or ‘gnawing’. A simple three-word set of evaluative terms had good separation when rated on a VAS scale (‘let’ 17.5±6.5 mm; ‘moderat’ 42.7±8.6 mm; and ‘stærk’ 74.9±9.7 mm). The questionnaire was able to discriminate among the six painful conditions with 77% accuracy by just using the descriptive words. The accuracy of the questionnaire increased to 96% with the addition of evaluative terms (for pain at rest and with activity), chronicity (acute vs. chronic), and location of the pain.
Conclusions: A Danish pain questionnaire that subjects and patients can self-administer has been developed and validated relative to the words used in the English McGill Pain questionnaire. The discriminative ability of the questionnaire among some common painful conditions has been tested and documented. The questionnaire may be of use in patient care and research.