Creating a better picture of chronic pain: Improving pain pictogram designs through systematic evaluation of user responses

Catherine Stones, Peter Raymond Knapp, S. Jose Closs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper discusses the challenges of visually representing pain qualities in
pictogram design. An existing set of 12 pictograms designed for people with literacy problems was evaluated to understand more about misunderstandings of pictogram interpretation. Two sets of university students from different disciplines were asked to interpret the pictograms and a novel classification system was developed to categorise answer types, as ‘location’, ‘affective’, temporal’ or ‘literal’. Several design recommendations are made as a result that will help improve the design of pain pictograms as a whole as well as guide designers of related pictogram work. We demonstrate how, through the robust classification of incorrect responses, it is possible to extract useful comprehension error patterns to inform future design.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Pain
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

© The British Pain Society 2016. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details

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