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The purpose of this study is to identify the cutoffs that are most suitable for classifying average and worst pain intensity as being mild, moderate, or severe in young people with physical disabilities. Survey study using a convenience sample of 113 young people (mean age = 14.19; SD = 2.9; age range: 8-20) with physical disabilities (namely, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, limb deficiency (acquired or congenital), or neuromuscular disease). The findings support a non-linear association between pain intensity and pain interference. In addition, the optimal cutoffs for classifying average and worst pain as mild, moderate, or severe differed. For average pain, the best cutoffs were the following: 0-3 for mild, 4-6 for moderate, and 7-10 for severe pain, whereas the optimal classification for worst pain was 0-4 for mild, 5-6 for moderate, and 7-10 for severe pain. The findings provide important information that may be used to help make decisions regarding pain treatment in young people with disabilities and also highlight the need to use different cutoffs for classifying pain intensity in young people with disabilities than those that have been suggested for adults with chronic pain. Implications for rehabilitation Most clinical guidelines make treatment recommendations based on classifications of pain intensity as being mild, moderate, and severe that do not have a clear cut association with pain intensity ratings. Cutoffs that are deemed to be the most appropriate for classifying pain intensity as mild, moderate, and severe appear to depend, at least in part, on the pain population that is being studied and pain domain that is being used. This work helps to advance our knowledge regarding the meaning of pain intensity ratings in young people with physical disabilities. Clinicians can use this information to make empirically guided decisions regarding when to intervene in young people with disabilities and chronic pain.

Citation

Jordi Miró, Rocío de la Vega, Ester Solé, Mélanie Racine, Mark P Jensen, Santiago Gálan, Joyce M Engel. Defining mild, moderate, and severe pain in young people with physical disabilities. Disability and rehabilitation. 2016 Jun 13:1-8


PMID: 27291566

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