Reliability and responsiveness of three different pain assessments

J Rehabil Med. 2001 Nov;33(6):279-83. doi: 10.1080/165019701753236473.


The visual analogue scale (VAS) and ordered categorical scales, i.e. numeric rating scales (NRS), are commonly used in the assessment of pain. However, these scales are bounded by fixed endpoints and thus the range of measurement is limited. The disparity in repeated assessments of perceived pain intensity with the VAS, NRS, and electrical stimulation applied as a matching stimulus was studied in 69 patients (48 women and 21 men, 19-72 years) with chronic nociceptive or neurogenic pain. Responsiveness with transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) using the same measurement procedures was evaluated in the same patients. Comparison of results from the three pain assessments showed that the painmatcher is at least as reliable and responsive as VAS and NRS. None of the three measurements showed evidence for systematic disagreement and had only significant random individual disagreement. They also showed evidence for responsiveness.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / diagnosis
  • Pain Management
  • Pain Measurement / methods*
  • ROC Curve
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation