Older Adult Pain Communication and the Brief Pain Inventory Short Form

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A randomized control group design with 106 community-dwelling older adults was used to test how completing the Brief Pain Inventory Short Form (BPI-SF) affected the osteoarthritis pain information reported by older adults responding to an open-ended pain question. The treatment group responded to the BPI-SF and then to the open-ended pain question. The control group responded first to the open-ended pain question, and then to the BPI-SF. Audiotaped responses to the open-ended pain question were content analyzed using 16 a priori criteria of pain information based on the American Pain Society guidelines for the management of arthritis pain. Total pain information was summed and compared between the treatment and control group. The control group reported significantly greater functional pain interference on the BPI-SF; therefore, functional pain interference was used as a covariate. Comparison of the two groups on the amount of pain information in response to the open-ended question revealed no significant group difference. Responding to the BPI-SF did not assist older adults to describe additional pain information when responding to an open-ended pain question, but responding to an open-ended pain question did significantly increase the amount of functional pain interference reported on the BPI-SF. Practitioners and researchers should be aware of the potential difference in BPI-SF functional pain interference response depending on whether pain is discussed before or after administering the BPI-SF. Discussing pain before completing the BPI-SF might prompt older adults to think more about how pain interferes with their daily life.

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