A comparison of observers' and self-report pain ratings for children with cerebral palsy

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2015 Jan;36(1):14-23. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000118.


Objectives: This study aimed to examine (1) the relationship between children's self-reports of pain and their different care providers' pain ratings, (2) the relationship between different care providers' ratings of pain in children with cerebral palsy (CP), and (3) whether the child's level of disability influences care providers' pain ratings.

Methods: Sixty-three children with CP were separated into 2 groups according to whether they were able to pass a self-report training task. Pain was rated using a Numerical Rating Scale and the Non-Communicating Children's Pain Checklist-Postoperative Version (NCCPC-PV). Children were observed during their regular physiotherapy sessions at 3 separate time segments (Baseline, Stretch Procedure, and Recovery).

Results: As anticipated, results showed that all observers reported significantly higher pain scores during a physiotherapy stretching procedure than the baseline and recovery segments. Observers' NCCPC-PV scores were significantly higher during the stretch procedure for the children who did not pass the self-report training task. Findings also indicated that parents tended to report significantly lower pain scores compared with both their children and other observers.

Conclusions: The findings bring into question the accuracy of single-observer pain ratings for children with CP and possess implications for the management of pain in children with CP.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cerebral Palsy / complications
  • Cerebral Palsy / diagnosis*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain / diagnosis*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Measurement / standards*
  • Parents
  • Physical Therapists
  • Self Report / standards*