Ability of the central sensitization inventory to identify central sensitivity syndromes in an outpatient chronic pain sample

Randy Neblett, Meredith M. Hartzell, Howard Cohen, Tom G. Mayer, Mark Williams, Yun Hee Choi, Robert J. Gatchel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine the ability of the central sensitization inventory (CSI), a new screening instrument, to assist clinicians in identifying patients with central sensitivity syndromes (CSSs). Methods: Patients from a psychiatric medical practice (N=161), which specialized in the assessment and treatment of complex pain and psychophysiological disorders, were assessed for the presence of a CSS. CSI scores, using a previously determined cutoff of "40"of "100," were compared between the CSS patient group (n=99) and the non-CSS patient group (n=62). Information on false positives, false negatives, true positives, and true negatives were analyzed, and sensitivity and specificity analyses were conducted. In addition, CSS-relevant variables such as depression, abuse, and substance abuse were examined. Results: A large percentage of CSS patients had comorbid major depressive disorder (80%) and abuse history (43%), which was higher than rates for the patients without a CSS (55% and 24%, respectively). The CSI correctly identified 82.8% (n=82) of CSS patients as having a CSS (ie, sensitivity) and 54.8% (n=28) of non-CSS patients as not having a CSS (ie, specificity). False-positive patients (not diagnosed with a CSS, but scoring >40 on the CSI) reported more severe pain, interference in daily functioning, and abuse history, compared with the non-CSS patients who scored below 40 (ie, true negatives). Conclusions: The CSI is a useful and valid instrument for screening patients for the possibility of a CSS, although the chances of false positives are relatively high when evaluating patients with complex pain and psychophysiological disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-332
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Journal of Pain
Issue number4
StatePublished - 27 Mar 2015


  • Central sensitivity syndrome
  • Central sensitization
  • Central sensitization inventory
  • Chronic widespread pain
  • Fibromyalgia


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