McGill Pain Questionnaire

Original Editor - Sinead Greenan

Top Contributors - Sinead Greenan and Evan Thomas

Objective

The McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ) is a self-reporting measure of pain used for patients with a number of diagnoses. It assesses both quality and intensity of subjective pain. 

Intended Population

Validated for patients with Cancer, Chronic Pelvic Pain, Fibromyalgia, Headaches, Herniated intervertebral discs, Ischemic muscular pain, Low back pain, Lumbago-sciatica, Orthodontics / Dental pain, Postoperative complications, Rheumatic pain, Trigeminal neuralgia and atypical facial pain, Vulvar pain

Method of Use

The MPQ is composed of 78 words, of which respondents choose those that best describe their experience of pain. Seven words are selected from the following categories: dimension 1 to 10 (pain descriptors), three words; dimensions 11 to 15 (affective components of pain), dimension 16 (evaluation of pain) one word, and dimension 17 to 20 (miscellaneous) one word. Scores are tabulated by summing values associated with each word; scores range from 0 (no pain) to 78 (severe pain). Qualitative differences in pain may be reflected in respondent’s word choice [1]


MPQ Dimensions

Sensory
1 Flickering/beating
2 Jumping/shooting
3 Pricking/lancinating
4 Sharp/lacerating
5 Pinching/crushing
6 Tugging/wrenching
7 Hot/searing
8 Tingling/stinging
9 Dull/heavy
10 Tender/splitting
Affective:
11 Tiring/exhausting
12 Sickening/suffocating
13 Fearful/terrifying
14 Punishing/killing
15 Wretched/blinding
Evaluative:
16 Annoying/unbearable
Miscellaneous:
17 Spreading/piercing
18 Tight/tearing
19 Cold/freezing
20 Nagging/torturing


Reference

Evidence

Reliability

Test-retest Reliability:

(Ferraz et al., 1990; n = 91 (66 literate & 25 illiterate) [2]
Excellent test-retest reliability (literate) r = 0.96
Excellent test-retest reliability (illiterate) r = 0.95

Validity

Criterion Validity:

Lung, Head or Neck, and Prostate Cancer:
(Fisher et al., 2010; n = 302; mean age = 60.5 (11.5) years; all patients undergoing radiation treatment) [3]

Concurrent validity: number of words chosen predicted by (using standardized regression coefficients, Beta):

  • State Anxiety (Beta = 0.06)
  • Depression (Beta = 0.07)
  • Greater number of coping strategies used (Beta = 0.16)


Construct Validity:

Low Back Pain:
(Byrne et al, 1982; n = 98 (63 female, 35 male); mean age 41.7 (male); 48.1 (female) years; mean duration of back pain 5.5 and 7.7 years respectively) [4]

  • Factor analyses was used, loadings were compared to prior research (e.g. Prieto et al., 1980[5]). Comparisons suggest a similar pattern of factor loadings.


Content Validity:

Literature Review:
(Melzack, 1975; measure development) [6]

  • Subject Matter Experts classified 102 words gleaned from the extant literature.
  • Words were categorized into 3 classes and 16 subclasses, these include:

Sensory qualities: temporal, spatial, pressure, thermal and "other" properties of pain
Affective qualities: tension fear and automatic properties of pain
Evaluative terms: a subjective assessment of overall pain intensity.

  • Groups of doctors, patients and students then assigned numeric intensity values to each word

High levels of agreement were observed despite difference in cultural, socio-economic and educational levels

Responsiveness

Not established

Links

McGill Pain Questionnaire

References

  1. Melzack, R. "The McGill Pain Questionnaire: major properties and scoring methods." Pain 1975 1(3): 277-299
  2. Ferraz, M. B., Quaresma, M. R., et al. "Reliability of pain scales in the assessment of literate and illiterate patients with rheumatoid arthritis." J Rheumatol 1990 17(8): 1022-1024
  3. Fischer, D. J., Villines, D., et al. "Anxiety, depression, and pain: differences by primary cancer." Support Care Cancer 2010 18(7): 801-810
  4. Byrne, M., Troy, A., et al. "Cross-validation of the factor structure of the McGill Pain Questionnaire." Pain 13(2): 193-201Byrne, M., Troy, A., et al. (1982). "Cross-validation of the factor structure of the McGill Pain Questionnaire." Pain 1982 13(2): 193-201
  5. Prieto, E. J., Hopson, L., et al. "The language of low back pain: factor structure of the McGill pain questionnaire." Pain 8(1): 11-19.Prieto, E. J., Hopson, L., et al. (1980). "The language of low back pain: factor structure of the McGill pain questionnaire." Pain 1980 8(1): 11-19.
  6. Melzack, R. "The McGill Pain Questionnaire: major properties and scoring methods." Pain 1975 1(3): 277-299