Background: Patients in sub-Saharan Africa commonly experience pain, which often is un-assessed and undertreated. One hindrance to routine pain assessment in these settings is the lack of a single-item pain rating scale validated for the particular context. The goal of this study was to examine the face validity and cultural acceptability of two single-item pain scales, the Numerical Rating Scale (NRS) and the Faces Pain Scale-Revised (FPS-R), in a population of patients on the medical, surgical, and pediatric wards of Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kenya. Methods: Swahili versions of the NRS and FPS-R were developed by standard translation and back-translation. Cognitive interviews were performed with 15 patients at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, Kenya. Interview transcripts were analyzed on a question-by-question basis to identify major themes revealed through the cognitive interviewing process and to uncover any significant problems participants encountered with understanding and using the pain scales. Results: Cognitive interview analysis demonstrated that participants had good comprehension of both the NRS and the FPS-R and showed rational decision-making processes in choosing their responses. Participants felt that both scales were easy to use. The FPS-R was preferred almost unanimously to the NRS. Conclusions: The face validity and acceptability of the Swahili versions of the NRS and FPS-R has been demonstrated for use in Kenyan patients. The broader application of these scales should be evaluated and may benefit patients who currently suffer from pain.
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