Development and Validation of a Daily Pain Catastrophizing Scale

Beth D. Darnall*, John A. Sturgeon, Karon F. Cook, Chloe J. Taub, Anuradha Roy, John W. Burns, Michael Sullivan, Sean C. Mackey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


To date, there is no validated measure for pain catastrophizing at the daily level. The Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS) is widely used to measure trait pain catastrophizing. We sought to develop and validate a brief, daily version of the PCS for use in daily diary studies to facilitate research on mechanisms of catastrophizing treatment, individual differences in self-regulation, and to reveal the nuanced relationships between catastrophizing, correlates, and pain outcomes. After adapting the PCS for daily use, we evaluated the resulting 14 items using 3 rounds of cognitive interviews with 30 adults with chronic pain. We refined and tested the final daily PCS in 3 independent, prospective, cross-sectional, observational validation studies conducted in a combined total of 519 adults with chronic pain who completed online measures daily for 14 consecutive days. For study 1 (N = 131), exploratory factor analysis revealed adequate fit and—unexpectedly—unidimensionality for item responses to the daily PCS. Study 2 (N = 177) correlations indicated adequate association with related constructs (anger, anxiety, pain intensity, depression). Similarly, results for study 3 (N = 211) revealed expected correlations for daily PCS and measures of daily constructs including physical activity, sleep, energy level, and positive affect. Results from complex/multilevel confirmatory factor analysis confirmed good fit to a unidimensional model. Scores on the daily PCS were statistically comparable with and more parsimonious than the full 14-item version. Next steps include evaluation of score validity in populations with medical diagnoses, greater demographic diversity, and in patients with acute pain. Perspective This article describes the development and validation of a daily PCS. This daily measure may facilitate research that aims to characterize pain mechanisms, individual differences in self-regulation, adaptation, and nuanced relationships between catastrophizing, correlates, and pain outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1139-1149
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pain
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • Pain
  • catastrophizing
  • daily
  • measurement
  • psychology
  • psychosocial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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