Skip to main content
Children's fear during procedural pain: Preliminary investigation of the Children's Fear Scale
Health Phsychology (2011)
  • C. Meghan McMurtry, Western University
  • Melanie Noel
  • Christine T Chambers
  • Patrick J McGrath
Many children consider getting a needle to be one of their most feared and painful experiences. Differentiating between a child's experience of fear and pain is critical to appropriate intervention. There is no gold standard one-item self-report measure of fear for use with children. Objective: To conduct an initial investigation of the psychometric properties of the Children's Fear Scale (CFS; based on the adult Faces Anxiety Scale) with young school-age children. Method: Children and their parents were filmed during venipuncture and completed pain and fear ratings immediately after the procedure (n = 100) and 2 weeks later (n = 48). Behavioral coding of the procedures was conducted. Results: Support was found for interrater reliability (Time 1: rs = .51, p < .001) and test–retest reliability (rs = .76, p < .001) of the CFS for measuring children's fear during venipuncture. Assessment of construct validity revealed high concurrent convergent validity with another self-report measure of fear (Time 1: rs = .73, p < .001) and moderate discriminant validity (e.g., Time 1: rs = −.30, p < .005 with child coping behavior; rs = .41, p < .001 with child distress behavior). Conclusions: The CFS holds promise for measuring pain-related fear in children. In addition to further investigation into the psychometric properties of the CFS during acute pain with a wider age range, future research could validate this measure in other contexts. The utility of a one-item measure of fear extends beyond the field of pediatric pain to other contexts including intervention for anxiety disorders and children in hospital.
Publication Date
Citation Information
C. Meghan McMurtry, Melanie Noel, Christine T Chambers and Patrick J McGrath. "Children's fear during procedural pain: Preliminary investigation of the Children's Fear Scale" Health Phsychology (2011)
Available at: