The validation of visual analogue scales as ratio scale measures for chronic and experimental pain.
Visual analogue scales (VAS) of sensory intensity and affective magnitude were validated as ratio scale measures for both chronic and experimental pain. Chronic pain patients and healthy volunteers made VAS sensory and affective responses to 6 noxious thermal stimuli (43, 45, 47, 48, 49 and 51 degrees C) applied for 5 sec to the forearm by a contact thermode. Sensory VAS and affective VAS responses to these temperatures yielded power functions with exponents 2.1 and 3.8, respectively; these functions were similar for pain patients and for volunteers. The power functions were predictive of estimated ratios of sensation or affect produced by pairs of standard temperatures (e.g. 47 and 49 degrees C), thereby providing direct evidence for ratio scaling properties of VAS. Vas sensory intensity responses to experimental pain, VAS sensory intensity responses to different levels of chronic pain, and direct temperature (experimental pain) matches to 3 levels of chronic pain were all internally consistent, thereby demonstrating the valid use of VAS for the measurement of and comparison between chronic pain and experimental heat pain.