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Keywords:

  • Pain Assessment;
  • Pain Mapping;
  • Computer Methods

Abstract

Objective.  The objective of this preliminary investigation was to evaluate the test–retest reliability of a new pain assessment method referred to as 3-D pain mapping.

Methods.  In Study 1, 101 chronic noncancer pain patients from four sites reported their pain using the method on two occasions (separated by approximately 10 days). The patients marked intensity, surface location, and depth of pain on a 3-D computer display of a male or female body. The model body could be rotated in order to mark multiple pain locations. In Study 2, 25 patients from a single site were tested with a revised version of the mapping program used in Study 1. Each patient gave ratings on two occasions separated by approximately 1 week.

Results.  In Study 1, the intra-class correlations of the 3-D pain mapping measures were moderate to high for maximum pain intensity (0.73), vertical location of the point of maximum pain (0.94), and the number of pain marks (0.84). Correlations were low for the horizontal location of the point of maximum pain (0.56) and for the depth of pain (0.50). In Study 2, using the revised program, intra-class correlations were moderate for pain intensity (0.76), and high for the vertical (0.99) and horizontal (0.98) locations of the point of maximum pain, number of pain marks (0.89), and the depth of pain (0.84).

Conclusion.  Three-dimensional pain mapping enables patients to report the location and intensity of their pain on all parts of the body, and such ratings are highly reliable. Future studies are needed to determine whether the clinical value of this method can improve the accuracy of pain diagnoses and the quality of pain management.