Preliminary validation of an observational pain checklist for persons with cognitive impairments and inability to communicate verbally

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2000 Sep;42(9):609-16. doi: 10.1017/s0012162200001146.


To obtain a preliminary validation of the Non-Communicating Children's Pain Checklist for individuals with an inability to communicate verbally, 32 caregivers of individuals with cognitive impairments aged 3 to 44 years retrospectively completed the Non-Communicating Children's Pain Checklist and rated item usefulness (0 to 10). In the second part of the study 33 caregivers completed the Checklist after two painful (e.g. burns, falls, surgery), one distressful (e.g. unwanted grooming, feared animal/noise), and one calm event (e.g. watching television). Checklist scores did not correlate with the age, sex, or physical limitations of individuals with an inability to communicate verbally. In the first part of the study Cronbach's alpha was 0.66; all mean usefulness ratings exceeded 5 out of 10. In the second part of the study after four items were removed, Cronbach's alpha was 0.79. Checklist scores during pain correlated with numerical ratings of pain intensity did not differ between the two pain events, and differed significantly from calm scores. Differences in Checklist scores during pain and distress were found for two subscales. The Checklist exhibits internal consistency, and preliminary evidence suggests it can detect pain and is reliable over time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Caregivers
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition Disorders*
  • Disabled Persons / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mutism*
  • Pain Measurement / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Verbal Behavior