Our limited ability to assess spontaneous pain in rodent models of painful human conditions may be associated with a translational failure of promising analgesic compounds in to clinical use. If measurement of spontaneous pain behaviours can be used to generate an analgesic intervention score their use could expand to guide the use of analgesics, as mandated by regulatory bodies and ethical and welfare obligations. One such measure of spontaneous pain, the Rat Grimace Scale (RGS), has recently been described and shown to exhibit reliability. However, reliability of measurement scores is context and content specific, and further testing required to assess translation to a heterogenous setting (different model, raters, environment). The objectives of this study were to perform reliability testing with the Rat Grimace Scale in a heterogenous setting and generate an analgesic intervention score for its use. In a randomised, blinded study, sixteen adult female rats received one of three analgesia treatments (0.05 mg/kg buprenorphine subcutaneously, 1 mg/kg meloxicam subcutaneously, 0.2 mg/kg oral buprenorphine in jelly) peri-operatively (telemetry unit implantation surgery). Rats were videorecorded (before, 1-6 and 12 hours post-operatively) and images collected for independent scoring by three blinded raters using the RGS, and five experts based on "pain/no pain" assessment. Scores were used to calculate inter- and intra-rater reliability with an intraclass correlation coefficient and generate an analgesic intervention score with receiver operating characteristic curve analysis. The RGS scores showed very good inter- and intra-rater reliability (0.85 [0.78-0.90 95% CI] and 0.83 [0.76-0.89], respectively). An analgesic intervention threshold of greater than 0.67 was determined. These data demonstrate that the RGS is a useful tool which can be successfully employed in a heterogenous setting, and has the potential to guide analgesic intervention. © 2014 Oliver et al.
Oliver, V., De Rantere, D., Ritchie, R., Chisholm, J., Hecker, K. G., & Pang, D. S. J. (2014). Psychometric assessment of the rat grimace scale and development of an analgesic intervention score. PLoS ONE, 9(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0097882