A Validation of Pain Assessment using the Visual Analog Scale and Ratio Production Methods


  1. Dyre, B.P.
  2. Roome, N.
  3. Beaudoin, T.
Corporate Authors
Defence Research and Development Canada, Toronto Research Centre , Toronto ON (CAN);Intellective Consulting and Services, LLC, Moscow ID (USA)
This research aimed to support development of a valid and reliable psychophysical pain measure with ratio scaling properties. Such a measure is important for assessing the effectiveness of design and procedural interventions introduced to reduce neck strain/pain in Griffon helicopter aircrew. This study included two experiments. Experiment 1 determined whether productions of pain ratios in a dual-stimulus procedure possess ratio scaling properties by testing whether the mathematical property of commutativity is maintained in ratio production of pain. We found commutativity to be maintained, which implies the underlying representation of pain in a pattern of produced ratios of pain has ratio properties. Experiment 2 aimed to determine whether visual analog scales (VAS) can reliably represent these ratio pain productions. In this experiment, we presented participants an experimentally-induced pain stimulus and a numeric ratio. Participants then adjusted a second pain stimulus to represent the given ratio of pain relative to the first stimulus. We then retested participants with the pain stimuli they produced at different ratios and had them rate the pain intensity using VAS. The results demonstrate that VAS scores are linearly related to the produced ratios of two independent pain stimuli. These results suggest that pain can be represented on a ratio scale and that VAS scores can validly represent this underlying ratio scale. Because percent change in VAS pain responses are a r
pain measurement;psychophysics;visual analog scale
Report Number
DRDC-RDDC-2017-C055 — Contract Report
Date of publication
01 Mar 2017
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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