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Open Access Research article

Can cancer patients assess the influence of pain on functions? A randomised, controlled study of the pain interference items in the Brief Pain Inventory

Guri Stenseth1, Marit Bjørnnes1, Stein Kaasa13 and Pål Klepstad24*

Author Affiliations

1 Dept. of Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway

2 Dept. of Circulation and Medical Imaging, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

3 Department of Oncology, St. Olavs University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway

4 Department of Anaesthesia and Acute Medicine, St. Olavs University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway

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BMC Palliative Care 2007, 6:2  doi:10.1186/1472-684X-6-2

Published: 9 March 2007

Abstract

Background

The Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) is recommended as a pain measurement tool by the Expert Working Group of the European Association of Palliative Care. The BPI is designed to assess both pain severity and interference with functions caused by pain. The purpose of this study was to investigate if pain interference items are influenced by other factors than pain.

Methods

We asked adult cancer patients to complete the original and a revised BPI on two study days. In the original version of the BPI the patients were asked how, during the last 24 hours, pain has interfered with functions. In the revised BPI this question was changed to how, during the last 24 hours, these functions are affected in general. Heath related quality of life was assessed at both study days applying the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer quality of life questionnaire.

Results

Forty-eight of the 55 included patients completed both assessments. The BPI pain intensities scores and the health related quality of life scores were similar at the two study days. Except for mood this study observed no significant distinctions between the patients' BPI interference items scores in the original (pain influence on function) and the revised BPI (function in general). Seventeen patients reported higher influence from pain on functions than the total influence on function from all causes.

Conclusion

We observed similar scores in the original BPI interference scores (pain influence on function) compared with the revised BPI interference scores (decreased function in general). This finding might imply that the BPI interference scale measures are partly responded to as more of a global interference measure.