Objectively measuring pain using facial expression: is the technology finally ready?

Thomas Richard Dawes, Ben Eden-Green, Claire Rosten, Julian Giles, Ricardo Governo, Francine Marcelline, Charles Nduka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Currently, clinicians observe pain-related behaviors and use patient self-report measures in order to determine pain severity. This paper reviews the evidence when facial expression is used as a measure of pain. We review the literature reporting the relevance of facial expression as a diagnostic measure, which facial movements are indicative of pain, and whether such movements can be reliably used to measure pain. We conclude that although the technology for objective pain measurement is not yet ready for use in clinical settings, the potential benefits to patients in improved pain management, combined with the advances being made in sensor technology and artificial intelligence, provide opportunities for research and innovation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPain Management
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2018


  • automatic
  • computer-image analysis
  • electromyography
  • facial expression
  • objective measure
  • pain


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