ATLANTA, Ga-A group of mainly low-income African-American cancer patients had no difficulty completing a multidimensional pain measure, and among the unidimensional measures tested, preferred a faces scale, Deborah B. McGuire, PhD, RN, told Oncology News International at her poster presentation at the 8th World Congress on Pain.
Dr. McGuire, who holds the Edith Folsom Honeycutt Chair in Oncology Nursing at Emory University, said that previous work in African-American populations with low literacy rates had shown some confusion with two items on the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) relating to "usual pain" and "pain relief."
Thus, she and her colleagues, Drs. Ora Strickland and Melvin Moore, tested a modified version of the BPI along with three pain intensity scales (a pain affect faces scale, a numerical pain intensity scale, and a verbal descriptor pain intensity scale).
The sample consisted of 110 adult male and female ambulatory cancer patients at a large inner city public institution; 78% of the subjects were African-American. All patients completed the four pain measures and a post-administration questionnaire.
"We found that the BPI with the revised items was psychometrically sound, reliable, and valid in this population," Dr. McGuire said. She noted that the test is written at approximately a sixth grade reading level, "so patients found it easy to read, understand, and complete, and overall found it very acceptable."
Interestingly, she said, when asked about the three pain intensity scales, the majority of patients (59%) found the faces scale easiest to understand, and it was the most preferred scale (47%). The researchers used a 6-face version adapted from a 9-face instrument developed for use in pediatrics.
The investigators concluded that good multidimensional measurement of pain is possible in low-income African-Americans using existing