The development of the negative pain thoughts questionnaire

Ana Maria Vranceanu, Steve Safren, James Cowan, David Ring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Cognitive processes play a pivotal role in the perception of pain intensity, pain-related disability, and response to medical treatments including surgeries. While various measures of dysfunctional pain coping exist in the literature, there is no instrument available to examine such negative cognitions in relation to perceptions of medical treatment in pain patients presenting to a surgical orthopedics practice. Aims: The purpose of this article is to report on the development and preliminary testing of the Negative Pain Thoughts Questionnaire (NPTQ). Methods: The NPTQ is an 11-item questionnaire assessing cognitions about pain and its treatment in patients presenting to orthopedics surgical practices. It was administered to 2 samples of patients with hand and arm pain seeking medical treatment in a hospital surgical practice. Patients in the second sample also completed a measure of depression and one of disability of hand, arm, and shoulder. Results: The NPTQ was found to be internally consistent, and unidimensional. The NPTQ total score was found to have a moderate to high positive correlation with perceived hand, arm, and shoulder disability, and a moderate positive correlation with depression. In multivariate analyses, high scores on the NPTQ significantly predicted high perceived hand, arm, and shoulder disability, even after controlling for depression. Conclusion: This short and easily administered measure of negative pain thoughts could potentially help surgeons identify at risk patients, and facilitate referrals to cognitive behavioral therapy. This, in turn, may prevent unnecessary surgeries, may decrease healthcare costs, and prevent transition toward costly chronic pain syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-341
Number of pages5
JournalPain Practice
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Depression
  • Disability
  • Negative pain thoughts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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