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Reliability of pain threshold measurement in young adults


The objective was to examine reliability of pressure and thermal (cold) pain threshold assessment in persons less than 25 years of age, using intra–class correlation (ICC) and coefficients of repeatability and variability. We measured thresholds to pain from pressure algometry and ice placed at the hand and head in 10 healthy volunteers aged 18–25. Intra–rater reliability was examined with ICC. Coefficients of repeatability (CR) and variability (CV) were estimated. Reliability of repeat assessments was high as assessed by ICC, although coefficients of repeatability and variation indicated considerable inter–individual variation in repeat measurements. Pressure algometry and strategically placed ice appear to be reliable techniques for assessing pain processing in young adults. Reliability studies employing ICC may benefit from complementary estimation of CR and CV.

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Correspondence to S. Cathcart.

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Cathcart, S., Pritchard, D. Reliability of pain threshold measurement in young adults. J Headache Pain 7, 21–26 (2006).

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Key words

  • Pain
  • Threshold
  • Pressure
  • Algometry
  • Thermal
  • Reliability