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Papers of the Week

Papers: 23 Apr 2022 - 29 Apr 2022

Human Studies

2022 Apr 21

J Pain

Sensory versus affective pain descriptors predicting functional versus psychosocial disability.


Fernandez E, Wu W, Shattuck EC, Kolaparthi K
J Pain. 2022 Apr 21.
PMID: 35462069.


In the lexical assessment of pain, an offshoot of the McGill Pain Questionnaire is the Pain Descriptor System (PDS) which assesses sensory, affective, and overall intensity of pain. To determine if sensory versus affective pain components might be selectively related to different aspects of disability, PDS scores were examined in relation to functional status and psychosocial impairment on the Pain Disability Questionnaire (PDQ). A sample of 629 chronic pain patients rated the degree to which each of 36 PDS words described their pain and also rated 15 items of the PDQ. Three regression models (including Group Lasso) were applied to the data. Results showed that as hypothesized, PDS sensory scores significantly predicted PDQ functional status, accounting for about 13% of the variance; PDS affective scores significantly predicted PDQ psychosocial impairment, accounting for 17% of the variance; PDS total scores significantly predicted PDQ total scores, accounting for approximately 24% of the variance. This supports the overall predictive validity of pain descriptors, while confirming more specific links between components of pain and facets of disability. Clinically, the patient's description of pain sensation may hold valuable clues to physical impairment, whereas the communication of affect/suffering is more likely to connote psychosocial difficulties in functioning. Perspective: Regression models (including Group Lasso) were applied to data on pain and disability from 629 patients. Findings support the Pain Descriptor System in assessing pain but further suggest that sensory descriptors are predictive of physical impairment from chronic pain, whereas affective descriptors are more predictive of psychologically-related disability.