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Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2019 Mar;66(3):e27538. doi: 10.1002/pbc.27538. Epub 2018 Nov 4.

Pediatric pain screening identifies youth at risk of chronic pain in sickle cell disease.

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Department of Pediatrics, Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia.
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia.
Department of Psychology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia.



This study aimed to evaluate the preliminary validation and application of a pain screening tool to identify biopsychosocial risk factors for chronic pain in pediatric sickle cell disease (SCD) and classify youth with SCD into prognostic risk groups.


Youth presenting to a pediatric SCD clinic completed the Pediatric Pain Screening Tool (PPST), a brief 9-item self-report questionnaire developed for rapid identification of risk in youth with pain complaints. Youth also completed a battery of standardized patient-reported outcomes, including pain characteristics, pain burden, functional disability, pain interference, depressive symptoms, pain catastrophizing, and fear of pain. Healthcare utilization was extracted from medical chart review.


Seventy-three 8- to 18-year-olds (94% Black, 57% female) with SCD participated. The PPST demonstrated discriminant validity that ranged from fair to excellent (area under the curves (AUC) = 0.74-0.93, P values < 0.001) for identifying significant pain frequency, disability, pain interference, and psychosocial distress. Receiver operating characteristic curve analyses indicated that previously established cutoff scores were appropriate for the SCD sample. Participants were classified into low-risk (28.8%), medium-risk (38.4%), and high-risk (32.9%) groups, with significant group differences across measures, F(18, 116) = 6.67, P < 0.001. The high-risk group reported significantly higher pain intensity, pain frequency, pain burden, functional disability, pain interference, and depressive symptoms relative to both low-risk and medium-risk groups (P values < 0.005).


The high-risk group demonstrated a pain and psychosocial profile consistent with chronic SCD pain. The PPST may be useful for efficiently identifying youth with chronic SCD pain or those at risk of poor outcomes.


biopsychosocial; chronic pain; pediatric; risk factors; screening; sickle cell disease

[Available on 2020-03-01]

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