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J Pain. 2007 Sep;8(9):708-17. Epub 2007 Jul 5.

Coping predictors of children's laboratory-induced pain tolerance, intensity, and unpleasantness.

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Pediatric Pain Program, Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90024, USA.


This study examined coping predictors of laboratory-induced pain tolerance, intensity, and unpleasantness among 244 healthy children and adolescents (50.8% female; mean age, 12.73 +/- 2.98 years; range, 8-18 years). Participants were exposed to separate 4-trial blocks of pressure and thermal (heat) pain stimuli, as well as 1 trial of cold pain stimuli. Strategies for coping with pain were measured using the Pain Coping Questionnaire (PCQ). Linear regression analyses were conducted to examine the associations between the 8 PCQ subscales and pain responses (pain tolerance, intensity, and unpleasantness) to all 3 pain tasks, controlling for age and sex. We found that internalizing/catastrophizing predicted higher pain intensity across the 3 pain tasks and higher cold pain unpleasantness; seeking emotional support predicted lower pressure pain tolerance; positive self-statements predicted lower pressure pain intensity and lower cold pain intensity and unpleasantness; and behavioral distraction predicted higher pressure pain tolerance and lower heat pain unpleasantness. These results suggest that in healthy children, internalizing/catastrophizing, and seeking emotional support may be conceptualized as pain-prone coping strategies, and positive self-statements and behavioral distraction as pain-resistant coping strategies within the context of laboratory pain.


These results support investigation of interventions with children that aim to reduce acute pain responses by modifying coping to reduce seeking of emotional support and catastrophizing and enhance the use of positive self statements and behavioral distraction.

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