Abstract Animations for the Communication and Assessment of Pain in Adults: Cross-Sectional Feasibility Study.

Published online

Journal Article

BACKGROUND: Pain is the most common physical symptom requiring medical care, yet the current methods for assessing pain are sorely inadequate. Pain assessment tools can be either too simplistic or take too long to complete to be useful for point-of-care diagnosis and treatment. OBJECTIVE: The aim was to develop and test Painimation, a novel tool that uses graphic visualizations and animations instead of words or numeric scales to assess pain quality, intensity, and course. This study examines the utility of abstract animations as a measure of pain. METHODS: Painimation was evaluated in a chronic pain medicine clinic. Eligible patients were receiving treatment for pain and reported pain more days than not for at least 3 months. Using a tablet computer, participating patients completed the Painimation instrument, the McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ), and the PainDETECT questionnaire for neuropathic symptoms. RESULTS: Participants (N=170) completed Painimation and indicated it was useful for describing their pain (mean 4.1, SE 0.1 out of 5 on a usefulness scale), and 130 of 162 participants (80.2%) agreed or strongly agreed that they would use Painimation to communicate with their providers. Animations selected corresponded with pain adjectives endorsed on the MPQ. Further, selection of the electrifying animation was associated with self-reported neuropathic pain (r=.16, P=.03), similar to the association between neuropathic pain and PainDETECT (r=.17, P=.03). Painimation was associated with PainDETECT (r=.35, P<.001). CONCLUSIONS: Using animations may be a faster and more patient-centered method for assessing pain and is not limited by age, literacy level, or language; however, more data are needed to assess the validity of this approach. To establish the validity of using abstract animations ("painimations") for communicating and assessing pain, apps and other digital tools using painimations will need to be tested longitudinally across a larger pain population and also within specific, more homogenous pain conditions.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Jonassaint, CR; Rao, N; Sciuto, A; Switzer, GE; De Castro, L; Kato, GJ; Jonassaint, JC; Hammal, Z; Shah, N; Wasan, A

Published Date

  • August 3, 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 20 / 8

Start / End Page

  • e10056 -

PubMed ID

  • 30076127

Pubmed Central ID

  • 30076127

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1438-8871

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.2196/10056


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Canada