Background: Neuropathic pain results from a nerve lesion or nerve damage. Because it is a subjective experience, patient-reported outcomes may measure both the symptoms and impact on the patient's life. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the Neuropathic Pain Symptom Inventory (NPSI) adequately assesses neuropathic pain symptoms in patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy, post-herpetic neuralgia, trigeminal neuralgia, and sciatica across multiple cultures.
Methods: From data collected from 132 subjects in 6 countries, qualitative research methods identified their most important symptoms (and verbal descriptions) associated with neuropathic pain. A core set of commonly described symptoms spanning multiple cultures was also described. Moderators using a semi-structured discussion guide conducted focus groups consisting of patients in the U.S., Brazil, Japan, China, Finland, and Spain to elicit concepts that were most important and relevant (concept elicitation phase). Study subjects ranked the importance of each neuropathic pain symptom, completed the NPSI, and commented on its ability to capture key symptoms (face and content validation phase).
Results: Descriptive terms for sensations of neuropathic pain were similar in all countries; burning, electric shocks, and pins and needles were among the most-common sensations. Individuals with neuropathic pain experienced all sensations that were included in the NPSI. They also tended to describe pins and needles and numbness interchangeably, perhaps reflecting the relative number of DPN subjects on study.
Conclusion: Based on data from these focus groups, the NPSI is an acceptable instrument for assessing neuropathic pain.