Self-report measurement of pain & symptoms in palliative care patients: a comparison of verbal, visual and hand scoring methods in Sub-Saharan Africa

David Blum, Lucy E Selman, Godfrey Agupio, Thandi Mashao, Keletso Mmoledi, Tony Moll, Natalya Dinat, Liz Gwyther, Lydia Mpanga Sebuyira, Barbara Ikin, Julia Downing, Stein Kaasa, Irene J Higginson, Richard Harding

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Abstract

Background. Despite a high incidence of life-limiting disease, there is a deficit of palliative care outcome evidence in sub-Saharan Africa. Providers of end of life care call for appropriate measurement tools. The objective is to compare four approaches to self-report pain and symptom measurement among African palliative care patients completing the African Palliative Care Association African Palliative Outcome Scale (APCA African POS). Methods. Patients were recruited from five services (4 in South Africa and 1 in Uganda). Research nurses cross-sectionally administered POS pain and symptom items in local languages. Both questions were scored from 0 to 5 using 4 methods: verbal rating, demonstrating the score using the hand (H), selecting a face on a visual scale (F), and indicating a point on the Jerrycan visual scale (J). H, F and J scores were correlated with verbal scores as reference using Spearman¿s rank and weighted Kappa. A Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) analysis was performed.Results315 patients participated (mean age 43.5 years, 69.8% female), 71.1% were HIV positive and 35.6% had cancer, 49.2% lived in rural areas. Spearman¿s rank correlations for pain scores were: H: 0.879, F: 0.823, J: 0.728 (all p¿¿F¿>¿J (0.96¿0.89) in ROC analysis. Conclusions. Hands and faces scoring methods correlate highly with verbal scoring. The Jerrycan method had only moderate weighted Kappa. POS scores can be reliably measured using hand or face score.
Original languageEnglish
Article number118
JournalHealth and Quality of Life Outcomes
Volume12
Issue number1
Early online date2 Aug 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2014

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