I. Indices of Pain Intensity Derived From Ecological Momentary Assessments: Rationale and Stakeholder Preferences

Published:September 14, 2020DOI:


      • We introduce several indices of pain intensity that can be derived from EMA.
      • Patients, providers, and clinical trialists were interviewed about the EMA indices.
      • Each stakeholder group had a distinct preference hierarchy for different indices.
      • Multiple temporal characteristics of pain intensity are relevant for stakeholders.


      Pain assessment that fully represents patients’ pain experiences is essential for chronic pain research and management. The traditional primary outcome measure has been a patient's average pain intensity over a time period. In this series of 3 articles, we examine whether pain assessment can be enhanced by considering additional outcome measures capturing temporal aspects of pain, such as pain maxima, duration, and variability. Ecological momentary assessment makes the assessment of such indices readily available. In this first article, we discuss the rationale for considering additional pain indices derived from ecological momentary assessment and examine which are most important to stakeholders. Patients (n = 32), clinicians (n = 20), and clinical trialists (n = 20) were interviewed about their preference rankings for Average, Worst, and Least Pain, Time in High Pain, Time in No/Low Pain, Pain Variability, and Pain Unpredictability. Each stakeholder group displayed a distinct preference hierarchy for different indices, and there were few commonalities between groups. Patients favored Worst Pain and Time in High Pain, followed by Pain Variability and Unpredictability. Trialists favored Average Pain, whereas clinicians favored Worst Pain. Results suggest that multiple temporal aspects of pain are relevant for stakeholders and should be considered when evaluating the efficacy of pain management.


      Examining which aspects of pain are most important to measure from the perspective of different stakeholders can facilitate efforts to include all relevant treatment outcomes. Our study suggests that multiple temporal aspects of pain intensity are important to stakeholders. This should be considered when evaluating the efficacy of pain management.

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