Validation of the numerical rating scale for pain intensity and unpleasantness in pediatric acute postoperative pain: sensitivity to change over time
Pagé, M. Gabrielle
Martin-Pichora, Andrea L.
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This study evaluates the construct validity (including sensitivity to change) of the numerical rating scale (NRS) for pain intensity (I) and unpleasantness (U) and participant pain scale preferences in children/adolescents with acute postoperative pain. Eighty-three children aged 8 to 18 years (mean = 13.8, SD = 2.4) completed 3 pain scales including NRS, Verbal Rating Scale (VRS), and faces scales (Faces Pain Scale-Revised [FPS-R] and Facial Affective Scale [FAS], respectively) for pain intensity (I) and unpleasantness (U) 48 to 72 hours after major surgery, and the NRS, VRS and Functional Disability Index (FDI) 2 weeks after surgery. As predicted, the NRSI correlated highly with the VRSI and FPS-R and the NRSU correlated highly with the VRSU and FAS 48 to 72 hours after surgery. The FDI correlated moderately with the NRS at both time points. Scores on the NRSI and NRSU at 48 to 72 hours were significantly higher than at 2 weeks after surgery. Children found the faces scales the easiest to use while the VRS was liked the least and was the hardest to use. The NRS has adequate evidence of construct validity including sensitivity for both pain intensity and unpleasantness. This study further supports the validity of the NRS as a tool to measure both intensity and unpleasantness of acute pain in children.