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Comprehension of pictograms for pain quality and pain affect in adults with Down syndrome

N. C. de Knegt, C. Schuengel, F. Lobbezoo, C. M. Visscher, H. M. Evenhuis, J. A. Boel

Academic Literature


Background Adults with Down syndrome (DS) are at risk for age-related painful physical conditions, but also for under-reporting pain. Pictograms may facilitate self-report of pain, because they seem suitable for the global visual processing in DS and for iconic representation of abstract concepts. Method Participants (N = 39, M age = 41.2) assigned pain qualities to pictograms, rated pain affect levels in facial scales (pictograms vs. drawn faces), and performed cognitive tests. Results Recognition of all intended pain qualities was above chance level. Pain affect levels of both facial scales were ordered equally well. Both facial scales were preferred equally well. Comprehension of the 3 scales was positively associated with mental age, receptive language ability, and verbal memory. Most participants (74%) had pictograms in their direct environment, mainly to communicate activities or objects. Conclusion Using pictograms may optimise communication about pain for a subgroup of cognitively higher functioning adults with DS. © 2016 Australasian Society for Intellectual Disability, Inc.

Publication information

Journal/Publication : Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability

Domain/s: Transport and communication

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