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J Pain. 2006 Apr;7(4):244-51.

Psychosocial risks for disability in children with chronic back pain.

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Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology, Cincinnati, Ohio 45229, USA.


Psychosocial factors related to disability in adults with chronic back pain have been well studied, but little is known about factors associated with functional impairment in pediatric patients with chronic back pain. The purpose of this study was to examine whether 2 potential risk factors-use of catastrophizing as a coping technique and presence of a familial pain history-were associated with disability in pediatric back pain patients. Participants were 65 patients (ages 8-18) with chronic back pain seen at a multidisciplinary pain clinic. Patients completed measures of pain (visual analog scales), disability (Functional Disability Inventory), and catastrophizing (Internalizing/Catastrophizing subscale of the Pain Coping Questionnaire). Parents provided demographic information and familial pain history. Patients reported that chronic back pain caused disruptions in their daily functioning and they missed, on average, 2.5 days of school every month. Catastrophizing and familial chronic pain history both were significantly associated with greater disability, with use of catastrophizing being the stronger predictor of disability. This study presents important findings on potential psychosocial risk factors of functional disability in children and adolescents with chronic back pain. Future research might clarify mechanisms by which such coping styles are developed and explore how familial communication about pain might influence a child's coping ability.


Pediatric patients seeking treatment for chronic back pain often present with substantial functional impairment that is not well explained by disease variables or pain intensity. Two important psychosocial variables (catastrophizing and familial pain history) may provide a context for a better understanding of pain-related disability in children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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