Reliability, Standard Error, and Minimum Detectable Change of Clinical Pressure Pain Threshold Testing in People With and Without Acute Neck Pain Academic Article uri icon

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  • STUDY DESIGN: Clinical measurement. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the intrarater, interrater, and test-retest reliability of an accessible digital algometer, and to determine the minimum detectable change in normal healthy individuals and a clinical population with neck pain. BACKGROUND: Pressure pain threshold testing may be a valuable assessment and prognostic indicator for people with neck pain. To date, most of this research has been completed using algometers that are too resource intensive for routine clinical use. METHODS: Novice raters (physiotherapy students or clinical physiotherapists) were trained to perform algometry testing over 2 clinically relevant sites: the angle of the upper trapezius and the belly of the tibialis anterior. A convenience sample of normal healthy individuals and a clinical sample of people with neck pain were tested by 2 different raters (all participants) and on 2 different days (healthy participants only). Intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC), standard error of measurement, and minimum detectable change were calculated. RESULTS: A total of 60 healthy volunteers and 40 people with neck pain were recruited. Intrarater reliability was almost perfect (ICC = 0.94-0.97), interrater reliability was substantial to near perfect (ICC = 0.79-0.90), and test-retest reliability was substantial (ICC = 0.76-0.79). Smaller change was detectable in the trapezius compared to the tibialis anterior. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides evidence that novice raters can perform digital algometry with adequate reliability for research and clinical use in people with and without neck pain.


  • Walton, David
  • MacDermid, Joy
  • Nielson, Warren
  • Teasell, Robert
  • Chiasson, Marco
  • Brown, Lauren

publication date

  • September 2011