Background: Procedural pain is underestimated in hospitalized preterm infants. The aim of this study was to assess the reliability, validity, and clinical utility of the Neonatal Facial Coding System (NFCS), Douleur Aiguë du Nouveau-né (DAN) scale, Neonatal Infant Pain Scale (NIPS), and Premature Infant Pain Profile (PIPP) in premature infants undergoing heel blood collection. We assume that the four scales were similar in reliablility and validity (but different in clinical utility).
Methods: The pain assessments were performed on 111 premature infants using the four scales. Internal consistency was determined by Cronbach’s α, and the reliability was determined by the intraclass correlation coefficients. Concurrent validity was evaluated by Spearman’s rank correlations. Bland-Altman plots were used to investigate the convergent validity.
Results: The internal consistency and their reliability of the scales were high (p < 0.001). Scores were significantly higher at the time of blood collection (p < 0.001). Mean scores of clinical utility of PIPP were significantly higher than NFCS and DAN (p < 0.05) but not higher than the NIPS (p > 0.05).
Conclusions: The four scales were reliable and valid. This study suggests that the PIPP and NIPS has good clinical utility and are better choice for evaluating procedural pain in premature infants.
Impact: The aim of this study was to assess the reliability, validity, and clinical utility of NFCS, DAN, NIPS, and PIPP in premature infants undergoing heel blood collection.The results showed that the four scales have high reliability and internal consistency; the PIPP and NIPS have good clinical utility and are better choice for evaluating procedural pain in premature infants.Our study results provided a reference for clinical workers in choosing pain assessment scales and conduction intervention.