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Assessing acute itch intensity : general labelled magnitude scale is more reliable than classic visual analogue scale

Jones, O; Holle, Henning; Jones, Olivia; Schindler, Igor


O Jones

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Dr Henning Holle
Reader in Psychology / Leader of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience group (

Olivia Jones


The reliable measurement of itch intensity is crucial, both in research as well as clinical contexts. For example, when the reliability of a measurement scale is unknown, it is impossible to determine whether a patient has changed sufficiently to be confident that the change is beyond that which could be attributed to measurement error (1). One factor that might influence the reliability of measurements is the type of rating scale used to assess itch intensity. Previous research (2-4) has documented the retest reliability of different rating scales for assessing chronic itch intensity. However, a retest reliability analysis of rating scales for acute experimental itch, induced using substances such as histamine or cowhage, is currently lacking. Here, we compare the test-retest reliability of three rating scales commonly used for this purpose. First, we considered the visual analogue scale in its classic form (cVAS), where participants indicate itch intensity on a line ranging from 0 (no itch) to 100 (the most intense itch imaginable). Second, we included a variant of the VAS, where an additional ‘Scratch Threshold’ marker is set at 33% (tVAS,5), defined as itching strong enough to be scratched (6). Finally, we considered the general Labelled Magnitude Scale (gLMS,7), where participants judge the magnitude of itch on a line with quasilogarithmically placed labels of “no sensation” at 0, “barely detectable” at 1, “weak” at 6, “moderate” at 17, “strong” at 35, “very strong” at 53 and “strongest imaginable sensation” at 100. Thus, all three scales have an identical range, but differ in the type and number of verbal labels provided.


Jones, O., Holle, H., Jones, O., & Schindler, I. (2017). Assessing acute itch intensity : general labelled magnitude scale is more reliable than classic visual analogue scale. Acta Dermato-Venereologica, 97(3), 375-376.

Acceptance Date Nov 17, 2016
Online Publication Date Nov 21, 2016
Publication Date Jan 1, 2017
Deposit Date Nov 17, 2016
Publicly Available Date Nov 21, 2016
Journal Acta dermato-venereologica
Print ISSN 0001-5555
Electronic ISSN 1651-2057
Publisher Society for Publication of Acta Dermato-Venereologica
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Volume 97
Issue 3
Pages 375-376
Keywords Dermatology; General Medicine
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article published in: Acta dermato-venereologica, 2017, v.97 issue 3.


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Copyright Statement
© 2017 Acta Dermato-Venereologica. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC license.

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