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Pain Research and Management
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 7603758, 17 pages
https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/7603758
Review Article

Chronic Pain Assessments in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Literature Review of the Selection, Administration, Interpretation, and Reporting of Unidimensional Pain Intensity Scales

1NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT, UK
2Arthritis Research UK Centre for Epidemiology, Centre for Musculoskeletal Research, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT, UK
3Arthritis Research UK Centre for Genetics and Genomics, Centre for Musculoskeletal Research, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT, UK
4Centre for Musculoskeletal Research, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT, UK

Correspondence should be addressed to Lis Cordingley

Received 31 January 2017; Revised 12 April 2017; Accepted 10 July 2017; Published 21 August 2017

Academic Editor: Frauke Musial

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Rachael Lee et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Background. Advances in pain assessment approaches now indicate which measures should be used to capture chronic pain experiences in children and adolescents. However, there is little guidance on how these tools should best be administered and reported, such as which time frames to use or how pain scores are categorised as mild, moderate, or severe. Objective. To synthesise current evidence on unidimensional, single-item pain intensity scale selection, administration, interpretation, and reporting. Methods. Databases were searched (inception: 18 January 2016) for studies in which unidimensional pain intensity assessments were used with children and adolescents with chronic pain. Ten quality criteria were developed by modifying existing recommendations to evaluate the quality of administration of pain scales most commonly used with children. Results. Forty-six studies met the inclusion criteria. The highest score achieved was 7 out of a possible 10 (median: 5; IQR: 4–6). Usage of scales varied markedly in administrator/completer, highest anchors, number of successive assessments, and time referent periods used. Conclusions. Findings suggest these scales are selected, administered, and interpreted inconsistently, even in studies of the same type. Furthermore, methods of administration are rarely reported or justified making it impossible to compare findings across studies. This article concludes by recommending criteria for the future reporting of paediatric chronic pain assessments in studies.