The structure, reliability and validity of pain expression: evidence from patients with shoulder pain

Kenneth M Prkachin, Patricia E Solomon


The present study examined psychometric properties of facial expressions of pain. A diverse sample of 129 people suffering from shoulder pain underwent a battery of active and passive range-of-motion tests to their affected and unaffected limbs. The same tests were repeated on a second occasion. Participants rated the maximum pain induced by each test on three self-report scales. Facial actions were measured with the Facial Action Coding System. Several facial actions discriminated painful from non-painful movements; however, brow-lowering, orbit tightening, levator contraction and eye closing appeared to constitute a distinct, unitary action. An index of pain expression based on these actions demonstrated test-retest reliability and concurrent validity with self-reports of pain. The findings support the concept of a core pain expression with desirable psychometric properties. They are also consistent with the suggestion of individual differences in pain expressiveness. Reasons for varying reports of relations between pain expression and self-reports in previous studies are discussed.


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Mar 31, 2000·The Clinical Journal of Pain·T HadjistavropoulosK D Craig
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