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A new instrument to assess family support in chronic pain

Researchers from the Iscte-University Institute of Lisbon have developed a new scale to assess family support for the functional autonomy and dependence of people with chronic pain. The validation study of this instrument was recently published in the international scientific journal The Journal of Pain.


The Informal Social Support for Autonomy and Dependence in Pain Inventory (ISSADI-PAIN) aims to measure the promotion of the functional autonomy/dependence perceived by people with chronic pain concerning their informal caregivers, particularly family members. Sónia Bernardes, a researcher at the Center for Psychological Research and Social Intervention (CIS-Iscte), is the first author of this study and explains the development process of this instrument:

"There was already a scale for assessing these dimensions in a formal context, that is, in formal care institutions, such as nursing homes or daycare centers, and it was developed as part of the doctoral thesis of the researcher Marta Matos, supervised by me and Prof. Liesbet Goubert from the University of Ghent. We adapted it to suit the context of care provided by family members, in which this type of instrument is scarce regarding chronic pain."

This scale "was revised throughout a process that allowed us to reach a final version with 11 items, making its application easy", adds the researcher. The instrument allows measuring three types of support actions in pain contexts: 1) the support that promotes functional dependence, 2) the emotional support that promotes functional autonomy, and 3) the instrumental support that promotes functional autonomy.

© 2016 Matthias Zomer | Pexels

Thus, the ISSADI-PAIN is a short, valid, and reliable tool that assesses the extent to which family social support for pain promotes individuals' functional autonomy or dependence. It is gender sensitive and differentiates family support responses to people with acute and chronic pain. Thus, it may contribute to understanding the role of family dynamics in the transition from acute to chronic pain.

This study was carried out by Sónia Bernardes, from CIS-Iscte, Alexandra Rei, Master in Psychology by Iscte, and Helena Carvalho, from the Centre for Research and Studies in Sociology (CIES-Iscte), with the support of two Portuguese Pain Associations: Liga Portuguesa contra as Doenças Reumáticas and Myos-Associação Nacional contra a Fibromialgia e Síndroma da Fadiga Crónica. The authors created a Portuguese version and an English version. A Spanish version was also developed with a team from the University of Malaga.



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