Correlation between the pain numeric rating scale and the 12-item WHO Disability Assessment Schedule 2.0 in patients with musculoskeletal pain

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The aim of this study was to assess the correlation between pain severity measured on a numeric rating scale and restrictions of functioning measured with the WHO Disability Assessment Schedule (WHODAS 2.0).

Patients and methods

This was a cross-sectional study of 1207 patients with musculoskeletal pain conditions. Correlation was assessed using Spearman’s and Pearson tests.


Although all the Spearman’s rank correlations between WHODAS 2.0 items and pain severity were statistically significant, they were mostly weak, with only a few moderate associations for ‘S2 household responsibilities’, ‘S8 washing’, ‘S9 dressing’, and ‘S12 day-to-day work’. The correlation between the WHODAS 2.0 total score and pain severity was also moderate: 0.41 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.36–0.45] for average pain and 0.42 (95% CI: 0.37–0.46) for worst pain. The correlation between the WHODAS 2.0 total score and pain level was also assessed using Pearson’s product–moment correlation, yielding figures that were similar to Spearman’s correlation: 0.42 (P<0.0001, 95% CI: 0.37–0.46) for average pain and 0.39 (P<0.0001, 95% CI: 0.34–0.44) for worst pain.


Among patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain, the correlation between pain severity measured by numeric rating scale and functioning level measured by WHODAS 2.0 was weak to moderate, with slightly stronger associations in physical domains of functioning.

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