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      Comparison of the Psychometric Properties of the FLACC Scale, the MBPS and the Observer Applied Visual Analogue Scale Used to Assess Procedural Pain

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          The purpose of this study was to compare the psychometric data and feasibility and clinical utility of the Face Legs, Activity, Cry and Consolability scale (FLACC), the Modified Behavioral Pain Scale (MBPS) and the Visual Analogue Scale for observers (VASobs) used to assess procedural pain in infants and young children.

          Patients and Methods

          Twenty-six clinicians assessed videorecorded segments of 100 infants and young children who underwent a painful and/or distressing procedure in the emergency department using the FLACC scale, the MBPS and the VASobs pain and VASobs distress.


          VASobs pain scores were lowest across all procedures and phases of procedures (p < 0.001). Inter-rater reliability was lowest for VASobs pain scores (ICC 0.55). Sensitivity and specificity were highest for FLACC scores (94.9% and 72.5%, respectively) at the lowest cut-off score (pain score two). Observers changed their MBPS scores more often than they changed FLACC or VASobs scores, but FLACC scores were more often incomplete. Reviewers did not consider any scale of use for procedural pain measurement.


          The reliability and sensitivity of the FLACC and MBPS were supported by study data but concerns about the capacity of these scales to distinguish between pain- and non-pain-related distress were raised. The VASobs cannot be recommended. Despite its limitations, the FLACC scale may be better suited than other scales for procedural pain measurement.

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          Most cited references 25

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          The FLACC: a behavioral scale for scoring postoperative pain in young children.

          To evaluate the reliability and validity of the FLACC Pain Assessment Tool which incorporates five categories of pain behaviors: facial expression; leg movement; activity; cry; and consolability. Eighty-nine children aged 2 months to 7 years, (3.0 +/- 2.0 yrs.) who had undergone a variety of surgical procedures, were observed in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). The study consisted of: 1) measuring interrater reliability; 2) testing validity by measuring changes in FLACC scores in response to administration of analgesics; and 3) comparing FLACC scores to other pain ratings. The FLACC tool was found to have high interrater reliability. Preliminary evidence of validity was provided by the significant decrease in FLACC scores related to administration of analgesics. Validity was also supported by the correlation with scores assigned by the Objective Pain Scale (OPS) and nurses' global ratings of pain. The FLACC provides a simple framework for quantifying pain behaviors in children who may not be able to verbalize the presence or severity of pain. Our preliminary data indicates the FLACC pain assessment tool is valid and reliable.
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            The COSMIN checklist for assessing the methodological quality of studies on measurement properties of health status measurement instruments: an international Delphi study

            Background Aim of the COSMIN study (COnsensus-based Standards for the selection of health status Measurement INstruments) was to develop a consensus-based checklist to evaluate the methodological quality of studies on measurement properties. We present the COSMIN checklist and the agreement of the panel on the items of the checklist. Methods A four-round Delphi study was performed with international experts (psychologists, epidemiologists, statisticians and clinicians). Of the 91 invited experts, 57 agreed to participate (63%). Panel members were asked to rate their (dis)agreement with each proposal on a five-point scale. Consensus was considered to be reached when at least 67% of the panel members indicated ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’. Results Consensus was reached on the inclusion of the following measurement properties: internal consistency, reliability, measurement error, content validity (including face validity), construct validity (including structural validity, hypotheses testing and cross-cultural validity), criterion validity, responsiveness, and interpretability. The latter was not considered a measurement property. The panel also reached consensus on how these properties should be assessed. Conclusions The resulting COSMIN checklist could be useful when selecting a measurement instrument, peer-reviewing a manuscript, designing or reporting a study on measurement properties, or for educational purposes.
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              Systematic review of observational (behavioral) measures of pain for children and adolescents aged 3 to 18 years.

              Observational (behavioral) scales of pain for children aged 3 to 18 years were systematically reviewed to identify those recommended as outcome measures in clinical trials. This review was commissioned by the Pediatric Initiative on Methods, Measurement, and Pain Assessment in Clinical Trials (www.immpact.org). In an extensive literature search, 20 observational pain scales were identified for review including behavior checklists, behavior rating scales, and global rating scales. These scales varied in their reliance on time sampling and inclusion of physiological items, facial and postural items, as well as their inclusion of multiple dimensions of assessment (e.g., pain and distress). Each measure was evaluated based on its reported psychometric properties and clinical utility. Scales were judged to be indicated for use in specific acute pain contexts rather than for general use. Two scales were recommended for assessing pain intensity associated with medical procedures and other brief painful events. Two scales were recommended for post-operative pain assessment, one for use in hospital and the other at home. Another scale was recommended for use in critical care. Finally, two scales were recommended for assessing pain-related distress or fear. No observational measures were recommended for assessing chronic or recurrent pain because the overt behavioral signs of chronic pain tend to habituate or dissipate as time passes, making them difficult to observe reliably. In conclusion, no single observational measure is broadly recommended for pain assessment across all contexts. Directions for further research and scale development are offered.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                31 March 2021
                : 14
                : 881-892
                [1 ]Department of Nursing, The University of Melbourne , Melbourne, VIC, Australia
                [2 ]Murdoch Children’s Research Institute , Melbourne, VIC, Australia
                [3 ]Royal Children’s Hospital , Melbourne, VIC, Australia
                [4 ]Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and University of Ottawa , Ottawa, ON, Canada
                [5 ]Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne , Melbourne, VIC, Australia
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Dianne Crellin c/o Emergency Department, Royal Children’s Hospital , Flemington Road Parkville, Melbourne, VIC, 3052, AustraliaTel +61 39345 5331Fax +61 9345 5983 Email dianne.crellin@rch.org.au
                © 2021 Crellin et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms ( https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php).

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 14, References: 25, Pages: 12
                Funded by: Murdoch Children’s Research Institute clinical research grant;
                Murdoch Children’s Research Institute clinical research grant.
                Original Research

                Anesthesiology & Pain management

                reliability, validity, infants, pain measurement


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