Comparative responsiveness of pain measures in cancer patients

Kurt Kroenke, Dale Theobald, Jingwei Wu, Wanzhu Tu, Erin E. Krebs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Brief measures to assess and monitor pain in cancer patients are available, but few head-to-head psychometric comparisons of different measures have been reported. Baseline and 3-month data were analyzed from 274 patients enrolled in the Indiana Cancer Pain and Depression (INCPAD) trial. Participants completed the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI), the PEG (a 3-item abbreviated version of the BPI), the short form (SF)-36 pain scale, and a pain global rating of change measure. The global rating was used as the criterion for standardized response mean and receiver operating characteristic curve analyses. To assess responsiveness to the trial intervention, we evaluated standardized effect size statistics stratified by trial arm. All measures were responsive to global improvement, discriminated between participants with and without improvement, and detected a significant intervention treatment effect. Short and longer measures were similarly responsive. Also, composite measures that combined pain severity and interference into a single score (BPI total, PEG, SF-36 pain) performed comparably to separate measures of each domain (BPI severity and BPI interference). Perspective: Pain measures as brief as 2 or 3 items that provide a single score are responsive in patients with cancer-related pain. Ultra-brief measures offer a valid and efficient means of assessing and monitoring pain for the clinical management as well as research of cancer-related pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)764-772
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pain
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Cancer
  • assessment
  • diagnosis
  • measures
  • pain
  • psychometrics


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