BackgroundThe Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) is recommended as a pain measurement tool by the Expert Working Group of the European Association of Palliative Care. The BPI is designed to assess both pain severity and interference with functions caused by pain. The purpose of this study was to investigate if pain interference items are influenced by other factors than pain.MethodsWe asked adult cancer patients to complete the original and a revised BPI on two study days. In the original version of the BPI the patients were asked how, during the last 24 hours, pain has interfered with functions. In the revised BPI this question was changed to how, during the last 24 hours, these functions are affected in general. Heath related quality of life was assessed at both study days applying the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer quality of life questionnaire.ResultsForty-eight of the 55 included patients completed both assessments. The BPI pain intensities scores and the health related quality of life scores were similar at the two study days. Except for mood this study observed no significant distinctions between the patients' BPI interference items scores in the original (pain influence on function) and the revised BPI (function in general). Seventeen patients reported higher influence from pain on functions than the total influence on function from all causes.ConclusionWe observed similar scores in the original BPI interference scores (pain influence on function) compared with the revised BPI interference scores (decreased function in general). This finding might imply that the BPI interference scale measures are partly responded to as more of a global interference measure.