The Vulvar Pain Assessment Questionnaire inventory

Pain. 2016 Dec;157(12):2672-2686. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000682.


Millions suffer from chronic vulvar pain (ie, vulvodynia). Vulvodynia represents the intersection of 2 difficult subjects for health care professionals to tackle: sexuality and chronic pain. Those with chronic vulvar pain are often uncomfortable seeking help, and many who do so fail to receive proper diagnoses. The current research developed a multidimensional assessment questionnaire, the Vulvar Pain Assessment Questionnaire (VPAQ) inventory, to assist in the assessment and diagnosis of those with vulvar pain. A large pool of items was created to capture pain characteristics, emotional/cognitive functioning, physical functioning, coping skills, and partner factors. The item pool was subsequently administered online to 288 participants with chronic vulvar pain. Of those, 248 participants also completed previously established questionnaires that were used to evaluate the convergent and discriminant validity of the VPAQ. Exploratory factor analyses of the item pool established 6 primary scales: Pain Severity, Emotional Response, Cognitive Response, and Interference with Life, Sexual Function, and Self-Stimulation/Penetration. A brief screening version accompanies a more detailed version. In addition, 3 supplementary scales address pain quality characteristics, coping skills, and the impact on one's romantic relationship. When relationships among VPAQ scales and previously researched scales were examined, evidence of convergent and discriminant validity was observed. These patterns of findings are consistent with the literature on the multidimensional nature of vulvodynia. The VPAQ can be used for assessment, diagnosis, treatment formulation, and treatment monitoring. In addition, the VPAQ could potentially be used to promote communication between patients and providers, and point toward helpful treatment options and/or referrals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Catastrophization
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement / methods*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Vulvodynia / diagnosis*
  • Vulvodynia / epidemiology
  • Vulvodynia / psychology*
  • Young Adult