Brief Pain Inventory and Faces Scale Perform Well in a Group of Low-Income, Primarily Black Cancer Patients

December 1, 1999
Oncology NEWS International, Oncology NEWS International Vol 5 No 10, Volume 5, Issue 10

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

ATLANTA, Ga-A group of mainly low-income African-American cancerpatients had no difficulty completing a multidimensional painmeasure, and among the unidimensional measures tested, preferreda faces scale, Deborah B. McGuire, PhD, RN, told Oncology NewsInternational at her poster presentation at the 8th World Congresson Pain.

Dr. McGuire, who holds the Edith Folsom Honeycutt Chair in OncologyNursing at Emory University, said that previous work in African-Americanpopulations with low literacy rates had shown some confusion withtwo items on the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) relating to "usualpain" 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 intensityscales (a pain affect faces scale, a numerical pain intensityscale, and a verbal descriptor pain intensity scale).

The sample consisted of 110 adult male and female ambulatory cancerpatients at a large inner city public institution; 78% of thesubjects were African-American. All patients completed the fourpain measures and a post-administration questionnaire.

"We found that the BPI with the revised items was psychometricallysound, reliable, and valid in this population," Dr. McGuiresaid. She noted that the test is written at approximately a sixthgrade 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 intensityscales, the majority of patients (59%) found the faces scale easiestto understand, and it was the most preferred scale (47%). Theresearchers used a 6-face version adapted from a 9-face instrumentdeveloped for use in pediatrics.

The investigators concluded that good multidimensional measurementof pain is possible in low-income African-Americans using existing

pain tools. "Both the BPI and the faces scale can serve asa foundation for assessing pain in future studies in this population,"Dr. McGuire said.

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