The Development of the Pain Catastrophizing Scale

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The Pain Catastrophizing Scale: Development and validation.
Sullivan, M.J.L., Bishop, S.R., Pivik, J. (1995)
Psychological Assessment; 7: 524-532

Pain catastrophizing affects how individuals experience pain. People who catastrophize tend to do three things, all of which are measured by the test. They ruminate about their pain ("I can´t stop thinking about how much it hurts"), they magnify their pain (e.g. "I´m afraid that something serious might happen"), and they feel helpless to manage their pain ("There is nothing I can do to reduce the intensity of my pain").

The questionnaire is one that individuals take themselves, answering questions about how they feel and what they think about when they are in pain. Compared to other ways of measuring pain-related thoughts, the Pain Catastrophizing Scale is unique in that the individual does not need to be in pain while completing the questionnaire.

One part of this research project compared how people scored on the PCS with how they scored on other questionnaires used to measure depression, anxiety, neuroticism, and fear of pain. Among the questionnaires, only the PCS predicted how much pain an individual reported in a given painful situation. For example, when measured prior to a painful procedure, an individual's score on the PCS predicted the amount of pain that the individual experienced during the painful procedure.

Today, the PCS is one of the most widely used instruments for measuring catastrophic thinking related to pain. The PCS is used extensively in clinical practice and in research. More than six hundred papers have been published on the use of the PCS in acute and chronic pain populations, and the PCS has been translated into 20 languages.

© Copyright Frederic Chappe, 2019. All rights reserved.