Assessment of the validity and reliability of the University of Wisconsin Children's Hospital Pain scale for Preverbal and Nonverbal Children

Pediatr Nurs. Nov-Dec 1999;25(6):670-6.


Purpose: This study tested the reliability and validity of a pain scale that was developed at University of Wisconsin Children's Hospital for the preverbal child (less than 3 years old) and the nonverbal child (children who cognitively were not able to communicate a pain rating on traditional pain scales).

Method: Content validity was established by expert review. Construct validity was demonstrated by having the nurse rate the child's pain before and after analgesic and during a procedure. Inter-rater reliability was achieved by two nurses simultaneously and independently rating the child's pain. Criterion validity was determined by comparing ratings with those obtained on the Wong-Baker Faces scale. Internal consistency was calculated using Cronbach's alpha.

Findings: Seventy-four patients provided data for 124 observation times. At 58 of the observation times, two nurses independently used the newly developed University of Wisconsin Children's Hospital (UWCH) scale, resulting in 182 pain ratings. Internal consistency of the scale (Cronbach's alpha) was 0.93. Mean pain scores were significantly higher prior to pain medication administration and during procedures than following analgesic administration. Inter-rater reliability was 0.92. Correlation of the new scale with the Wong-Baker Faces Scale was r = .62.

Conclusions: Initial testing of the construct validity, internal reliability, and internal consistency of the UWCH Pain Scale for Preverbal and Nonverbal Children were acceptable. Parents provided ratings for most of the faces scale, which could account for the low correlation in the construct validity testing.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child Behavior
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Language Development
  • Male
  • Observer Variation
  • Pain / diagnosis*
  • Pain Measurement / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Wisconsin