The SPADE Symptom Cluster in Primary Care Patients With Chronic Pain

Clin J Pain. 2016 May;32(5):388-93. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000286.


Objectives: Sleep disturbance, pain, anxiety, depression, and low energy/fatigue, the SPADE pentad, are the most prevalent and co-occurring symptoms in the general population and clinical practice. Co-occurrence of SPADE symptoms may produce additive impairment and negatively affect treatment response, potentially undermining patients' health and functioning. The purpose of this paper is to determine: (1) prevalence and comorbidity (ie, clustering) of SPADE symptoms; (2) internal reliability and construct validity of a composite SPADE symptom score derived from the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) measures; and (3) whether improvement in somatic symptom burden represented by a composite score predicted subsequent measures of functional status at 3 and 12 months follow-up.

Methods: Secondary analysis of data from the Stepped Care to Optimize Pain care Effectiveness study, a randomized trial of a collaborative care intervention for Veterans with chronic pain.

Results: Most patients had multiple SPADE symptoms; only 9.6% of patients were monosymptomatic. The composite PROMIS symptom score had good internal reliability (Cronbach's alpha=0.86) and construct validity and strongly correlated with multiple measures of functional status; improvement in the composite score significantly correlated with higher scores for 5 of 6 functional status outcomes. The standardized error of measurement (SEM) for the composite T-score was 2.84, suggesting a 3-point difference in an individual's composite score may be clinically meaningful.

Discussion: Brief PROMIS measures may be useful in evaluating SPADE symptoms and overall symptom burden. Because symptom burden may predict functional status outcomes, better identification and management of comorbid symptoms may be warranted.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Pain* / complications
  • Chronic Pain* / epidemiology
  • Chronic Pain* / therapy
  • Comorbidity
  • Fatigue / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Veterans
  • Young Adult