The purposes of this study were to determine a clinically significant cutpoint for worst pain and to evaluate for differences in the use of pain coping strategies between oncology inpatients with mild (i.e., worst pain intensity scores of <or=4) compared with moderate to severe (i.e., worst pain intensity scores of >4) pain based on results of the cutpoint analysis. Oncology inpatients in pain (n=224) completed the Coping Strategies Questionnaire (CSQ), the Brief Pain Inventory, and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C30). Fifty-six percent had moderate to severe pain. Patients in the moderate to severe pain group had significantly poorer Karnofsky Performance Status scores (P=0.04) and significantly lower ratings of overall health (P<0.0001). No differences were found between the two pain groups on any of the subscales of the CSQ, except catastrophizing (P<0.0001). Compared with the mild pain group, patients in the moderate to severe group scored significantly higher on this subscale. In addition, patients in the moderate to severe group used more passive coping strategies (P=0.02). Except for catastrophizing, the number and types of pain coping strategies used by this sample of hospitalized patients do not appear to be influenced by their pain intensity scores. Finally, when the CSQ scores of these hospitalized oncology patients were compared with those found in previous studies of oncology outpatients and patients with chronic noncancer pain, the scores were similar.