Reliability of measurements for sub-painful and painful perception on artificial electrical stimulations

Chi Chung Chan, Jiaxin Peng, Che Hin Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Artificial electrical stimulation is a common type of stimulus to induce sub-painful and painful sensation in clinical or neuroscience experiments. The Numerical Rating Scale (NRS) is often used to evaluate subjective perception due to external stimulations. Yet the relationship between the intensity levels of electrical stimulations and self-perception has seldom been examined. The aim of the study was to obtain evidence on the reliability and accuracy of sub-painful and painful perceptions of healthy participants using the NRS under different levels of electrical stimulus. A total of 72 pain-free healthy volunteers (female = 44) were recruited. In the first experiment, each participant was given different levels of a non-nociceptive or nociceptive electrical stimulus and then asked to give a perception rating based on an 11-point NRS. In the second experiment, each participant was asked to memorize 5 levels of sub-nociceptive or nociceptive stimuli and to recognize the level of stimulus given each time. For the NRS rating task, intraclass coefficients (ICCs) reached satisfactory level for sub-nociceptive (0.85 < ICC < 0.93) and nociceptive stimulation (0.90 < ICC < 0.96). The ICCs were the highest for the weakest sub-nociceptive and nociceptive stimuli. For the stimulus recognition task, accuracy was also found to be highest for the weakest sub-nociceptive stimulus (κ = 0.67) and lowest for the strongest nociceptive stimulus (κ = 0.34). The results suggest that, with adequate training, NRS can be a reliable measurement tool for both sub-painful and painful rating due to electrical stimulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-41
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Electrical stimulation
  • Numerical Rating Scale
  • Pain
  • Reliability
  • Tactile sensation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)


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