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A short form of the McGill Pain Questionnaire (SF-MPQ) has been developed. The main component of the SF-MPQ consists of 15 descriptors (11 sensory; 4 affective) which are rated on an intensity scale as 0 = none, 1 = mild, 2 = moderate or 3 = severe. Three pain scores are derived from the sum of the intensity rank values of the words chosen for sensory, affective and total descriptors. The SF-MPQ also includes the Present Pain Intensity (PPI) index of the standard MPQ and a visual analogue scale (VAS). The SF-MPQ scores obtained from patients in post-surgical and obstetrical wards and physiotherapy and dental departments were compared to the scores obtained with the standard MPQ. The correlations were consistently high and significant. The SF-MPQ was also shown to be sufficiently sensitive to demonstrate differences due to treatment at statistical levels comparable to those obtained with the standard form. The SF-MPQ shows promise as a useful tool in situations in which the standard MPQ takes too long to administer, yet qualitative information is desired and the PPI and VAS are inadequate.