Approaches to Demonstrating the Reliability and Validity of Core Diagnostic Criteria for Chronic Pain

Stephen Bruehl, Richard Ohrbach, Sonia Sharma, Eva Widerstrom-Noga, Robert H. Dworkin, Roger B. Fillingim, Dennis C. Turk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


The Analgesic, Anesthetic, and Addiction Clinical Trial Translations, Innovations, Opportunities, and Networks-American Pain Society Pain Taxonomy (AAPT) is designed to be an evidence-based multidimensional chronic pain classification system that will facilitate more comprehensive and consistent chronic pain diagnoses, and thereby enhance research, clinical communication, and ultimately patient care. Core diagnostic criteria (dimension 1) for individual chronic pain conditions included in the initial version of AAPT will be the focus of subsequent empirical research to evaluate and provide evidence for their reliability and validity. Challenges to validating diagnostic criteria in the absence of clear and identifiable pathophysiological mechanisms are described. Based in part on previous experience regarding the development of evidence-based diagnostic criteria for psychiatric disorders, headache, and specific chronic pain conditions (fibromyalgia, complex regional pain syndrome, temporomandibular disorders, pain associated with spinal cord injuries), several potential approaches for documentation of the reliability and validity of the AAPT diagnostic criteria are summarized. Perspective The AAPT is designed to be an evidence-based multidimensional chronic pain classification system. Conceptual and methodological issues related to demonstrating the reliability and validity of the proposed AAPT chronic pain diagnostic criteria are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)T118-T131
JournalJournal of Pain
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016



  • Chronic pain
  • classification
  • diagnostic criteria
  • reliability
  • taxonomy
  • validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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