PainQuILT™ is an evidence-based pain assessment and tracking tool for people with chronic pain and the healthcare professionals who care for them. It evolved through research at the University of Toronto and McMaster University in close collaboration with pain patients and clinicians.

“To describe pain solely in terms of intensity is like specifying the visual world only in terms of light flux without regard to pattern, color, texture and the many other dimensions of visual experience.”
— Dr. Ronald Melzack and Dr. Warren Torgerson, 1971

It is often hard to find the right words to describe what pain feels like. To address this problem, we developed a simple, visual language for the pain experience by speaking with children and adults with different types of chronic pain.

PainQuILT™ features a library of 16 simple icons designed to empower patients and clinicians to better communicate about pain.


PQ Icons
Examples of PainQuILT™ Icons

Chronic pain is rarely confined to just one part of the body. In a study involving nearly 2500 patients, 73% experienced pain across multiple parts of their body (Carnes et al, 2007). What the pain feels like (“quality”) and how much it hurts (“intensity”) is often different across these multiple body sites.

PainQuILT™ is the only tool available that empowers patients to report different qualities and different intensities of pain across multiple body sites.

There are many apps available to help people with painful conditions. In 2015, a team of researchers from The Hospital for Sick Children collected information on all of the publicly available apps for pain management. There were 279 apps identified, across Apple, Android, Windows, and BlackBerry platforms. However, only 8% of apps included any type of health professional during development. And less than 1% of the apps were scientifically evaluated.

PainQuILT™ has been rigorously developed with the help of pain experts – including chronic pain patients (aged 12-85 years), healthcare professionals from anesthesiology, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, physiatry, psychology, psychiatry, and rheumatology, as well as research scientists with expertise in pain and health measurement.

PainQuILT™ has been scientifically evaluated through 5 peer-reviewed studies and presented at over 10 national and international conferences (visit our Research page to learn more).