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Pain classification imageChronic pain is a highly prevalent condition. Up to 20% of the general population are affected worldwide. Chronic pain is not represented adequately in the current version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) although it is a condition that contributes significantly to the global burden of disease. Researchers of an international taskforce of the International Association of the Study of Pain (IASP) have developed a new classification of chronic pain for the upcoming revision of the ICD, ICD-11.

The new classification defines chronic pain as pain that persists or recurs for more than three months. Seven classificatory categories are determined: chronic primary pain, chronic cancer-related pain, chronic postsurgical and post-traumatic pain, chronic neuropathic pain, chronic secondary headache or orofacial pain, and chronic secondary musculoskeletal pain. This new IASP classification is also accessible at the ICD-11 website and is explained in detail in a series of papers.

As any new diagnostic instrument, the new IASP classification of chronic pain needs to be evaluated. A pilot field testing has already been conducted and now we plan to collaborate in an ecological field study. The study will be multi-centric with the goal of investigating the performance of the classification in countries with different cultural backgrounds and different income levels. Central research questions are to study the exhaustiveness of the classification system, the mutual exclusiveness of the categories, the inter-rater reliability, and the clinical utility.

The Department of Psychological Medicine in collaboration with the Persistent Pain Clinic at Dunedin Hospital will be involved in the ecological field study as a study centre. Researchers of the department will collaborate with Dr Antonia Barke (IASP Taskforce Consultant; Catholic University Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Germany), Bea Korwisi, M.Sc., (IASP Taskforce Coordinator; Philipps-University Marburg, Germany) and Professor Winfried Rief (IASP Taskforce Chair; Philipps-University Marburg, Germany).

Key Researchers


  • Dr Antonia Barke, IASP Taskforce Consultant (Catholic University Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Germany)
  • Bea Korwisi, IASP Taskforce Coordinator (Philipps-University Marburg, Germany)
  • Professor Winfried Rief, IASP Taskforce Chair (Philipps-University Marburg, Germany)
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