Encyclopedia of Pain

2007 Edition

Assessment of Pain Behaviors

  • Francis J. Keefe
  • Rebecca W. Pryor
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-29805-2_302


Analysis of Pain Behavior; Observation of Pain Behavior; Recording of Pain Behavior


Patients who have pain exhibit a variety of behaviors that serve to communicate the fact that pain is being experienced. These behaviors have been termed pain behaviors (Fordyce 1976). Pain behaviors can be verbal (e.g. verbal descriptions of the intensity, location, and quality of pain; vocalizations of distress; moaning, or complaining) or nonverbal (e.g. withdrawing from activities, taking pain medication, or pain related body postures or facial expressions). Fordyce (1976) was one of the first to address the importance of pain behaviors. According to Fordyce's operant behavioral model, pain behaviors that initially occur in response to acute injury are sometimes maintained over much longer periods of time because they lead to reinforcing consequences. For example, a brief period of bed rest can be adaptive in response to  acute pain, but when pain persists, excessive bed rest...

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francis J. Keefe
    • 1
  • Rebecca W. Pryor
    • 1
  1. 1.Pain Prevention and Treatment ResearchDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesDuke University Medical CenterNC, USA