Chronic Pain Scales in Tangible Materials

Christina Fyhn Nielsen, Jacob Buur

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


For chronic pain patients, it is a challenge to communicate what their pain feels like - both to friends and relatives and to healthcare professionals. Traditionally doctors employ pain scales (numbers, standardised words, images of facial expressions), but pain scales can be challenging for patients, as chronic pain is experienced individually. They are also difficult to relate to for relatives and professionals, who do not have personal experience of chronic pain. In this pictorial, we present a series of design explorations with tangible materials to offer an alternative for chronic patients to express pain. In collaboration with six patients, we identify eight different types of pain experiences and the material metaphors that the patients may use to express them. We also develop three examples of tailored design artefacts, pain communicators, that can function as 'tangible pain scales' to express pain experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTEI 2020 - Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication dateFeb 2020
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4503-6107-1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020
Event14th International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction - Sydney, Australia
Duration: 9. Feb 202012. Feb 2020


Conference14th International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction


  • Chronic pain
  • Materiality
  • Pain scales
  • Pain.
  • Tangible expression


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