Comfort and its measurement--a literature review

Disabil Rehabil Assist Technol. 2009 Sep;4(5):301-10. doi: 10.1080/17483100902980950.


Purpose: This review aims to identify measures suitable for evaluation of physical comfort in a range of clinical settings or specialised areas.

Method: A review of literature included articles that evaluated an intervention, position, equipment or surface for comfort or discomfort. Electronic databases, hand searches and internet sources were used.

Results: In addition to several theoretical papers on comfort, 29 studies were identified that used 'comfort' or 'discomfort' as outcomes. There was a lack of consistency in measurement of comfort and researchers used a wide range of different scales and tools. Objective and subjective measures are described. The impact of symptoms, environmental variables and emotional factors was generally not considered. Two instruments evaluating subjective comfort or discomfort were identified that have been carefully developed and psychometrically tested. Both have potential for use in clinical practice and research - one developed for wheelchair seating and one for wearable computers. Suggestions for clinical evaluation of comfort based on the research and theoretical papers regarding measurement scales are made.

Conclusion: Further work on development and validation of comfort assessment tools for other applications is needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain Measurement / methods*
  • Rehabilitation / methods*