Reliability and Standardization in the Assessment of Self-Reported Headache Pain

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headache pain, self-monitoring, headache inventories

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The efficacy of a treatment intervention for head pain is typically evaluated by self-reported data. Self-monitoring schedules used to collect these data vary extensively across studies. The present article reviews conceptual and methodological problems with these self-report inventories. In addition, the most promising procedure was implemented in a study designed to measure the reliability of self-reported headache pain levels. One-hundred twenty-four college students self-monitored headache pain over an 8-week period. Three objective procedures were used to detect inaccurate recording. Subjects were also asked, in a post-experimental questionnaire, to subjectively rate the degree to which they complied with the experimenters' instructions regarding the self-monitoring procedures. Forty percent of the subjects were found to be noncompliant based on the detection techniques. However, responses to the postexperimental questionnaire indicated this to be a conservative estimation of noncompliance. There was no consistent difference between the postexperimental questionnaire for the subjects detected and those not detected. Results are discussed with relation to the need for researchers to adopt a standard methodology for (1) measuring self-reported headache pain and (2) reporting reliability data.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Behavioral Assessment, v. 1, issue 1, p. 73-86