Pain assessment


In adults, pain is one of the most common physical complaints. For example, a comprehensive review of available epidemiological studies yielded a median point prevalence of chronic benign pain of 15% in adults, with individual study values ranging from 2-40% (Verhaak, Kerssens, Dekker, Sorbi, & Bensing, 1998). Unfortunately, pain is not limited to the adult years, as estimates of pain complaints in childhood and adolescence typically range from 15-20% (Goodman & McGrath, 1991), a level surprisingly similar to that for adults. The pain experienced by children and adolescents is sufficiently intense to require medical consultations by a large percentage of those so affected. Of the 25% of individuals aged up to 18 years studied by Perquin, Hazebroek- Kampschreur, Hunfeld, van Suijlekom-Smit, Passchier, and van der Wouden (2000) who had complaints of chronic pain (defined as continuous or recurrent pain occurring longer than three months), 57% had visited a physician and almost 40% had taken medication. The major types of pain experienced by children and adolescents are listed in Table 15.1, although in practice the pain presentations often overlap, with boundaries being less distinct (McGrath & Finley, 1999). In the not too distant past pain was not viewed as a serious problem in children and adolescents. However, it is now clear that pain is a significant condition in childhood and adolescence and, when it is chronic or recurrent, it is unlikely to be outgrown (McGrath & Finley, 1999). Several findings highlight the seriousness of pain in children and adolescents. © 2009 Springer New York.

Publication Title

Assessing Childhood Psychopathology and Developmental Disabilities