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Int J Gen Med. 2009 Jul 30;2:121-8.

Primary care assessment instruments for patients at risk of, or with, persistent pain: opportunistic findings from a systematic literature review.

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Centre for Allied Health Evidence, University of South Australia, Australia.



Early identification in primary care settings of individuals with, or at-risk of, developing persistent pain, is important to limit development of disability. There is little information to assist primary care providers to choose or deliver relevant, efficient, and soundly constructed assessment instruments for this purpose.


We recently published the findings of a literature review, which produced a compendium of assessment instruments to identify adults with, or at-risk of developing, persistent pain of noncancer origin. This paper reports on instruments opportunistically identified during this review which may be appropriate to primary health care settings for early identification of such patients.


One hundred sixteen potentially useful instruments were initially identified in the review, measuring pain severity, psychological distress, functional capacity, quality of life or multidimensional constructs of persistent pain. Following a series of steps, 45 instruments were shortlisted, with sound clinical utility and strong psychometric properties. Of these, 16 instruments were appropriate to primary health care settings because of simple wording, brief items, short administration time, and ease of scoring.


No one assessment instrument captured all constructs of persistent pain. The 16 instruments provide a broad choice for primary care clinicians to assist with early identification of adults at risk of, or with persistent pain.


adults with persistent pain; early identification; primary health care assessment

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