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The objectives of this study were to develop and validate a tool for assessing pain in population-based observational studies and to develop three subscales for back/neck, upper extremity and lower extremity pain. Based on a literature review, items were extracted from validated questionnaires and reviewed by an expert panel. The initial questionnaire consisted of a pain manikin and 34 items relating to (i) intensity of pain in different body regions (7 items), (ii) pain during activities of daily living (18 items) and (iii) various pain modalities (9 items). Psychometric validation of the initial questionnaire was performed in a random sample of the German-speaking Swiss population. Analyses included tests for reliability, correlation analysis, principal components factor analysis, tests for internal consistency and validity. Overall, 16,634 of 23,763 eligible individuals participated (70%). Test-retest reliability coefficients ranged from 0.32 to 0.97, but only three coefficients were below 0.60. Subscales were constructed combining four items for each of the subscales. Item-total coefficients ranged from 0.76 to 0.86 and Cronbach's alpha were 0.75 or higher for all subscales. Correlation coefficients between subscales and three validated instruments (WOMAC, SPADI and Oswestry) ranged from 0.62 to 0.79. The final Pain Standard Evaluation Questionnaire (SEQ Pain) included 28 items and the pain manikin and accounted for the multidimensionality of pain by assessing pain location and intensity, pain during activity, triggers and time of onset of pain and frequency of pain medication. It was found to be reliable and valid for the assessment of pain in population-based observational studies.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





62 - 74


Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Pain, Pain Measurement, Population Groups, Surveys and Questionnaires