Psychological pain describes the personal agony and suffering of an individual. A recent study suggests that the OMMP-8 might be a more viable tool compared to the commonly used scale, the 44-item OMMP, to measure mental pain.

Suicide and psychological pain

Suicide is a public health problem, with an estimated one million people dying from suicide worldwide each year. In the United States, suicide rates have increased over the past 20 years: suicide is the tenth overall cause of death and the second, fourth, and eighth leading cause of death in people aged 10 to 34, 34 to 44, and 55 to 64 years of age, respectively.

Although several theories have been put forward about the meaning and motivation of suicide, personal torment (e.g., “I can no longer take the pain”) contributes to it. Mental pain, defined as “persistent, unsustainable, and uncomfortable feeling resulting from a negative assessment of inability or lack of self” is a term used to describe the personal agony and suffering of an individual.

Understand mental pain

Understanding and assessing individual psychological pain can be beneficial. However, researchers and clinicians face limited options in choosing an instrument (e.g., survey, scale, questionnaire) that will adequately and accurately measure mental pain. Our study evaluated the Orbach and Mikulincer Mental Pain (OMMP) scale, a 44-point scale for measuring mental pain (see Orbach et al. And Guimarães et al.). We assessed scale validity and the ability to compare scores across stakeholders (e.g. gender, age, physical activity status, clinical diagnosis).

Mental pain and age

In our study, we found that the 44-item OMMP scale did not meet the necessary criteria to be recommended in its current form for use in research or clinical practice. Our subsequent testing of the OMMP yielded a compressed version (i.e. the OMMP-8) that could be a more practical option for research and clinical practice. Our results show that the OMMP-8 can be administered in different groups (e.g. age, gender, physical activity status) in order to effectively compare the scores of psychological pain between the groups.

We also found that people aged 65 and older had less psychological pain compared to younger people; and those who did less physical activity tended to report higher levels of mental pain than those who reported more physical activity. Therefore, physical activity and life experience can have an impact on psychosocial health outcomes, including mental pain.

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Mental health and mental pain

Finally, we found that people with a current or previous mental health diagnosis rated higher on the OMMP-8 scale, which means they had more mental pain than those without a mental health diagnosis. Our results are too preliminary to recommend the use of the OMMP-8 scores for diagnostic purposes. However, we believe they provide insights into mental pain and individual wellbeing that could affect patient care.

OMMP-8 may be a more viable option than the 44-element OMMP

In conclusion, it is important for researchers and clinicians to select instruments that have established psychometric properties, suggesting that a scale can accurately measure the construct of interest. Our results indicated that the 44-point OMMP did not meet the recommended criteria necessary to recommend its use in research and clinical practice. Our first psychometric analysis shows that OMMP-8 is a more viable option for measuring mental pain; However, more research is needed to fully evaluate the measuring properties of the scale and its application in clinical practice.

For more information and resources on suicide prevention, please visit this page as part of the support the Springer Nature Sustainable Development Goals Program provides to global communities with access to critical research and debate.


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