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Background: The Numeric Pain Rating Scale (NPRS) is a popular method to assess pain. Recently, the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) has been suggested to be more accurate in measuring pain. This study aimed to compare NPRS and PROMIS Pain Interference (PI) scores in a population of foot and ankle patients to determine which method demonstrated a stronger correlation with preoperative and postoperative function, as measured by PROMIS Physical Function (PF).

Methods: Prospective PROMIS PF and PI and NPRS data were obtained for 8 common elective foot and ankle surgical procedures. Data were collected preoperatively and postoperatively at a follow-up visit at least 6 months after surgery. Spearman correlation coefficients were calculated to determine the relationship among NPRS (0-10) and PROMIS domains (PI, PF) pre- and postoperatively. A total of 500 patients fit our inclusion criteria.

Results: PROMIS PF demonstrated a stronger correlation to PROMIS PI in both the pre- and postoperative settings (preoperative: ρ = −0.66; postoperative: ρ = −0.69) compared with the NPRS (preoperative: ρ = −0.32; postoperative: ρ = −0.33). Similar results were found when data were grouped by Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code.

Conclusion: PROMIS PI was a superior tool to gauge a patient’s preoperative level of pain and functional ability. This information may assist surgeons and patients in setting postoperative functional expectations and pain management.

Level of Evidence: Level II, prognostic


Originally published in Foot & Ankle International® 2019, Vol. 40(2) 139–144 © The Author(s) 2018.