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Normative data for common pain measures in chronic pain clinic populations

closing a gap for clinicians and researchers

Nicholas, Michael K.a,*; Costa, Daniel S.J.a; Blanchard, Meganb; Tardif, Hilarieb; Asghari, Alia,c; Blyth, Fiona M.a,d

doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001496
Research Paper
Editor's Choice

Normative data for chronic pain questionnaires are essential to the interpretation of aggregate scores on these questionnaires, for both clinical trials and clinical practice. In this study, we summarised data from 13,343 heterogeneous patients on several commonly used pain questionnaires that were routinely collected from 36 pain clinics in Australia and New Zealand as part of the electronic Persistent Pain Outcomes Collaboration (ePPOC) including the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI); the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scales (DASS); the Pain Self-Efficacy Questionnaire (PSEQ); and the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS). The data are presented as summarised normative data, broken down by demographic (age, sex, work status, etc) and pain site/medical variables. The mean BPI severity score was 6.4 (moderate-severe), and mean interference score was 7.0. The mean DASS depression score was 20.2 (moderate-severe), mean DASS anxiety was 14.0 (moderate), and mean DASS stress was 21.0 (moderate). The mean PCS scores were 10.0, 5.9, 14.1, and 29.8 for rumination, magnification, helplessness, and total, respectively. The mean PSEQ score was 20.7. Men had slightly worse scores than women on some scales. Scores tended to worsen with age until 31 to 50 years, after which they improved. Scores were worse for those who had a greater number of pain sites, were unemployed, were injury compensation cases, or whose triggering event was a motor vehicle accident or injury at work or home. These results and comparisons with data on the same measures from other countries, as well as their uses in both clinical practice and clinical trials, are discussed.

This article describes normative data on commonly used self-report questionnaires with a large sample of Australasian chronic pain clinic patients.

aFaculty of Medicine and Health, Pain Management Research Institute, University of Sydney and Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

bAustralian Health Services Research Institute, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia

cSchool of Psychology, University of Shahed, Tehran, Iran

dFaculty of Medicine and Health, Centre for Education and Research in Ageing (CERA), University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Corresponding author. Address: Pain Management Research Institute, Royal North Shore Hospital Reserve Rd, St Leonards, NSW 2065, Australia. Tel.: +612 9463 1515. E-mail address: (M.K. Nicholas).

Sponsorships or competing interests that may be relevant to content are disclosed at the end of this article.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

Received October 11, 2018

Received in revised form December 03, 2018

Accepted December 13, 2018

© 2019 International Association for the Study of Pain
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