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Validation of Pain Severity Assessment using the PainDETECT Questionnaire

Background: The PainDETECT Questionnaire (PD-Q) is a screening tool for Neuropathic Pain (NeP). A cut-off value of ≥ 13 indicates the possibility of NeP components. The PD-Q score seems to reliably distinguish the severity of NeP; however, it has not yet been validated whether changes of the PD-Q score can follow changes of pain severity assessed using an 11-point Numerical Rating Scale (NRS).

Methods: Sixty patients diagnosed with NeP answered the PD-Q, NRS, and Neuropathic Pain Symptom Inventory (NPSI). We analyzed correlations among them by using the Pearson correlation test. Another 49 patients with NeP answered the PD-Q and NRS twice, with the second survey being conducted 8 weeks after the first survey. Correlations were analyzed between the %decrease of PD-Q and NRS scores. In both experiments, the participants were divided into two groups according to the PD-Q score (cut-off value of 13). For these groups, we also analyzed the correlations.

Results: The PD-Q showed fair to moderate correlation with the NRS and NPSI. The PD-Q could linearly track changes of the NRS. Analyses of subsets revealed that patients with PD-Q scores ≥ 13 showed similar correlations, whereas those with PD-Q scores <13 did not.

Conclusion: Despite the limited number of patients included, our findings suggest that the PD-Q can be suitable for assessing and tracking pain severity in patients with NeP at least in common clinical settings. Sufficient attention should be paid when using the PD-Q as an outcome measure for patients with a low PD-Q score.


Hiroaki Abe Masahiko Sumitani, Yoshitaka Matsubayashi, Rikuhei Tsuchida, Yasushi Oshima, Katsushi Takeshita and Yoshitsugu Yamada

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