Measurement Characteristics and Clinical Utility of the Pain Catastrophizing Scale in Individuals Experiencing Low Back Pain

Published:April 29, 2017DOI:
      Low back pain (LBP) is a leading cause of physical restriction in the United States and around the world, with an estimated lifetime prevalence rate of 38.9% reported among the general population globally.1 The Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS) is a 13-item, self-report instrument used to quantify pain experiences,2 and it was developed to facilitate research on the mechanisms by which pain catastrophizing influences the experience of pain.3 Respondents are asked to reflect on a previous episode of pain and indicate to what degree they experienced thoughts or feelings consistent with (1) rumination, (2) magnification, and (3) helplessness.2. 3. Items on the PCS were drawn from previous research related to catastrophic pain.3 Research demonstrates that the PCS is a valid measure for the functional evaluation of individuals with LBP. The clinically derived PCS total score has demonstrated excellent test-retest reliability and internal consistency.2. 4. 5. Additionally, the PCS has been shown to be useful in differentiating between patients experiencing pain in outpatient settings and individuals living in the community without pain.6 The PCS is free to use and can be administered and scored in <5 minutes, making it a clinically useful and low-burden instrument to incorporate in routine clinical practice.
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