Brief Pain Inventory

Brief Pain Inventory


The Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) is a self-administered assessment tool used in pain management. The BPI was originally developed from a measure known as the Wisconsin Brief Pain Questionnaire.

The basic aim of the BPI is to provide the information on the intensity of pain, along with the degree to which the pain interferes with the everyday functioning of life.

Generally, the BPI is used to assess a varied set of factors. A few important amongst these include:

  • Severity of pain
  • Impact of pain on daily function
  • Location of pain
  • Pain medications
  • Amount of pain relief in a specific period of time (e.g. past 24 hours, past week etc.)

There are two basic forms of the BPI assessment tool .i.e. the short form and the long form.

The Concept

The BPI is basically a brief and easy to use tool for assessment of pain in both, the clinical and research settings. It uses simple numeric rating scales (NRS) from 0 to 10, which are extremely easy to understand. The scales and scores of the BPI are also quite easy to translate into other languages.

The BPI scale defines pain as follows:

  • Worst Pain Score: 1 – 4 = Mild Pain
  • Worst Pain Score: 5 – 6 = Moderate Pain
  • Worst Pain Score: 7 – 10 = Severe Pain

Since pain can vary to a considerable measure over a day, the BPI asks the patients to rate their pain at the time of responding to the questionnaire. In addition, the questionnaire also asks the respondent to specify the pain at its worst, least and average over the previous week.

Conceptually, the design of the study determines the most appropriate period to rate, whether it is the last 24 hours or the past week. This assessment tool generally takes 5 minutes to finish for the short form and 10 minutes for the long form.

For the reader’s information, we have listed the main components of the Brief Pain Inventory (short form) in the further sections.

Usability and Validity

The BPI has been successfully used around the world to measure the severity of pain and its role in various medical conditions. It has been used effectively for pain associated with conditions like cancer, AIDS and sickle cell disease.

This particular assessment tool has been validated in at least seven different languages by examining the consistency of its two factor structure, including the severity of pain and impact of pain. The most popular languages in which it has been validated include Chinese, Filipino, French, Hindi, Italian, Spanish and Vietnamese. In fact, the data procured from these studies reflects similar data from all the concerned countries and different cultures.

A series of studies conducted using the BPI tool provide ample evidence regarding its validity. There are several studies using the instrument with patients of cancer and other diseases who had pain. Successful assessments were observed in a majority of cases in such studies.

Another research report also indicates that the BPI might be advantageous for palliative care patients, as it places a very less amount of stress on the patient and offers an easy criterion for evaluation.

Lastly, the BPI has a vast series of applications, including the studies of epidemiology of cancer pain, the routine clinical assessment of pain, efforts to assure quality of pain management and the conduct of clinical trials examining the effectiveness of cancer pain treatments.

Brief Pain Inventory – Short Form

The BPI (short form) is a 9-point questionnaire that involves around the pain and its allied aspects.

Here we list the main points covered in the BPI (short form).

  • Occurrence of pain
  • Areas of pain
  • Rating of the pain at its worst in the last 24 hours
  • Rating of the pain at its least in the last 24 hours
  • Specifying the average pain level
  • Specifying the current level of pain
  • Specifications of the treatments or medications being currently taken
  • Percentage of pain relief form medications in the past 24 hours
  • Specifying how much has the pain interfered in the following areas of life in the last 24 hours:

    • General activity
    • Mood
    • Walking ability
    • Normal work
    • Relation with other people
    • Sleep
    • Enjoyment of life