Screening for Pain in Pediatric Brain Tumor Survivors Using the Pain Thermometer

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Numerous instruments have been developed to measure pain within various populations; however, there remains limited understanding of how these tools are applicable to childhood cancer survivors. This study compared a single-item screening measure, the Pain Thermometer (PT), with a more in-depth measure, the Brief Pain Survey (BPS), in a cohort of childhood brain tumor survivors. Ninety-nine survivors (aged 13-32 years) with a median time from diagnosis of 9.9 years (range = 2-18 years) completed the 2 instruments. Thirty-seven survivors (37.4%) were identified on the BPS as having clinically significant pain, but the PT was not found to be an accurate tool for identifying these pain cases. Application of receiver operating characteristic curve analysis of PT ratings against BPS criterion indicated overall concordance between measures. No cutoff score on the PT were identified that resulted in acceptable sensitivity, meaning pain cases identified on the BPS would be missed on the PT. Findings suggest that a multi-item screening measure may better identify clinically significant pain in childhood brain tumor survivors compared with a 1-item screening measure alone.

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