Children's Computer Assessment of Pain and Mood

Period of Performance: 08/01/2009 - 07/31/2010


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Psychological Applications, LLC
South Pomfret, VT 05067
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Ongoing concerns about the management and treatment of children's pain/mood make quantitative assessment in children a high medical priority. Currently, the dominant clinical technique has children indicate only their pain by selecting from among a set of static, stylized facial expressions. Although the widespread use of such methods has yielded substantial clinical information, these "face scales" can only show a small number of expressions, do not allow the user to indicate mood as well as pain, and do not provide for automatic computer storage and data analysis. The objective of this Phase II proposal is to further develop a computerized method for assessing pain and mood by having a child adjust an animated cartoon face whose expression can range continuously from a neutral state to a frown for pain, and from a smile to a frown for mood. The child uses a PDA computer to create two facial expressions;one to indicate their current pain, the other to indicate their current mood. This software is referred to as the Computer Face Scale and its psychometric properties have been established in Phase I work with hospitalized children at a rural and an urban hospital. The first objective of the work is to develop a wireless network so that assessments obtained with PDAs in different hospital rooms can be seen together on a server at the nurse's station. The second objective is to test the responsiveness of the new method by collecting pain and mood ratings from children (5 to 12 years) periodically both pre- and post-operatively. The third objective is to establish the construct validity of the new computer method by comparing results with a well-established poster version of a Face Scale intended to measure only pain, and a verbal rating scale to measure mood. PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS. There are excellent commercial prospects for computer software that allows children to rate their levels of pain and mood. Such a method could also prove useful for testing adults with limited language skills, and in cross-cultural situations where the impact of language differences must be negated. Once the software package is implemented and tested, site licenses for the program will be sold to clinics, hospitals, and private practices, as well as to pharmaceutical companies conducting clinical trials both in the US and internationally. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: The objective of this project is to determine the responsiveness of a new computer method for assessing children's pain and mood. Children adjust the expression of a cartoon face to represent the degree of their pain and their current mood state (happy to sad). Ratings will be obtained both pre- and post-operatively from children and the change in their ratings post-operatively will be tracked.