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1.  Patient versus parental perceptions about pain and disability in children and adolescents with a variety of chronic pain conditions 
Cross-informant variance is often observed in patient self-reports versus parent proxy reports of pediatric chronic pain and disability.
To assess the relationship and merit of the child versus parent perspective.
A total of 99 patients (eight to 17 years of age [mean 13.2 years]; 71% female, 81% Caucasian) and parents completed the Pediatric Pain Questionnaire and Functional Disability Inventory at their initial clinic visit. Patients’ and parents’ pain intensity and disability scores were analyzed using an intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC), Wilcoxon signed-rank test, Bland-Altman plot and Spearman’s correlation coefficient. The association between clinical/demographic variables and differences in patient/parent pain intensity and disability scores was assessed using multivariable regression.
There was significant agreement between patients’ self-reports and parents’ proxy reports of their child’s pain intensity (ICC=0.52; P<0.001) and disability (ICC=0.57; P=0.004) at the individual level. There were no significant group differences in patient versus parent-proxy pain intensity scores (P=0.40) and disability scores (P=0.54). The difference between patient and parent-proxy pain intensity was associated with patients’ self-reported pain intensity (P<0.001). The difference between patient and parent-proxy disability was associated with patient’s self-reported pain disability (P<0.001). Bland-Altman plots revealed major inter-rater variation in the Pediatric Pain Questionnaire and Functional Disability Inventory across their score ranges. A significant relationship (r=0.38; P<0.001) was observed between patients’ self-reported pain intensity and disability.
While equal merit should ideally be given to pediatric chronic pain patients’ self-reports and their parents’ proxy reports of pain intensity and disability, it would appear that, as needed, pediatric patients or parents can offer a clinically valid, single clinical perspective.
PMCID: PMC3938337  PMID: 24147272
Adolescents; Children; Chronic pain; Disability; Functional capacity; Pain intensity; Parent-child; Pediatrics
2.  Children and adolescents with complex regional pain syndrome: More psychologically distressed than other children in pain? 
Historically, in both adult and pediatric populations, a lack of knowledge regarding complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and absence of clear diagnostic criteria have contributed to the view that this is a primarily psychiatric condition.
To test the hypothesis that children with CRPS are more functionally disabled, have more pain and are more psychologically distressed than children with other pain conditions.
A total of 101 children evaluated in a tertiary care pediatric pain clinic who met the International Association for the Study of Pain consensus diagnostic criteria for CRPS participated in the present retrospective study. Comparison groups included 103 children with abdominal pain, 291 with headache and 119 with back pain. Children and parents completed self-report questionnaires assessing disability, somatization, pain coping, depression, anxiety and school attendance.
Children with CRPS reported higher pain intensity and more recent onset of pain at the initial tertiary pain clinic evaluation compared with children with other chronic pain conditions. They reported greater functional disability and more somatic symptoms than children with headaches or back pain. Scores on measures of depression and anxiety were within normal limits and similar to those of children in other pain diagnostic groups.
As a group, clinic-referred children with CRPS may be more functionally impaired and experience more somatic symptoms compared with children with other pain conditions. However, overall psychological functioning as assessed by self-report appears to be similar to that of children with other chronic pain diagnoses. Comprehensive assessment using a biopsychosocial framework is essential to understanding and appropriately treating children with symptoms of CRPS.
PMCID: PMC3718058  PMID: 23662291
Chronic pain; Complex regional pain syndrome; Functional disability; Pediatric; Psychological functioning
3.  Persistent pain in a community-based sample of children and adolescents: Sex differences in psychological constructs 
The prevalence of persistent and recurrent pain among children and adolescents has important economic, social and psychological repercussions. The impact of chronic pain in children extends beyond the affected individuals – more than one-third of parents of children with pain report clinically significant levels of stress and depression. Although many pain-related psychological factors have been examined in chronic pediatric pain populations, much of that research involved clinical samples. Community-based research, however, is necessary to uncover the way pain is experienced by youth, regardless of whether treatment is sought or is available. This study aimed to ascertain the lifetime prevalence of pediatric pain in a Canadian community-based sample, and to explore age and sex differences in children who report persistent pain and those who do not with respect to several constructs believed to play important roles in the development and maintenance of persistent pain.
Very few studies have investigated the psychological factors associated with the pain experiences of children and adolescents in community samples.
To examine the lifetime prevalence of, and psychological variables associated with, persistent pain in a community sample of children and adolescents, and to explore differences according to sex, age and pain history.
Participants completed the Childhood Anxiety Sensitivity Index (CASI), the Child Pain Anxiety Symptoms Scale (CPASS), the Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children-10 (MASC-10), the Pain Catastrophizing Scale for Children (PCS-C) and a pain history questionnaire that assessed chronicity and pain frequency. After research ethics board approval, informed consent/assent was obtained from 1022 individuals recruited to participate in a study conducted at the Ontario Science Centre (Toronto, Ontario).
Of the 1006 participants (54% female, mean [± SD] age 11.6±2.7 years) who provided complete data, 27% reported having experienced pain that lasted for three months or longer. A 2×2×2 (pain history, age and sex) multivariate ANOVA was conducted, with the total scores on the CASI, the CPASS, the MASC-10 and the PCS-C as dependent variables. Girls with a history of persistent pain expressed higher levels of anxiety sensitivity (P<0.001) and pain catastrophizing (P<0.001) than both girls without a pain history and boys regardless of pain history. This same pattern of results was found for anxiety and pain anxiety in the older, but not the younger, age group.
Boys and girls appear to differ in terms of how age and pain history relate to the expression of pain-related psychological variables. Given the prevalence of persistent pain found in the study, more research is needed regarding the developmental implications of persistent pain in childhood and adolescence.
PMCID: PMC3206778  PMID: 22059200
Children; Persistent pain; Psychosocial factors; Sex differences
4.  Preliminary validation of a self-efficacy scale for child functioning despite chronic pain (child and parent versions) 
Pain  2006;125(1-2):35-42.
Despite frequent targeting of health beliefs in pediatric chronic pain treatment interventions, there are currently no reliable and valid self-efficacy measures for children with chronic pain and their parents. The current study examined the psychometric properties of parent and child versions of a self-efficacy measure related to the child functioning normally when in pain. Pediatric pain patients, 9–18 years of age, and a caregiver completed questionnaires before an initial tertiary care clinic appointment. The 67 patients in our sample had an average of 1.7 pain locations, including abdominal pain (43.3%), headaches (50.7%), body pain (25.4%), back pain (23.9%), limb pain (20.9%), and/or chest pain (9.0%). Reliability for the new measures was excellent; the Cronbach's alpha was .89 for the 7 child items and .90 for the 7 parent items. Strong evidence for construct validity was also obtained as 23 of the 27 hypothesized correlations were confirmed. As predicted, parent and child ratings of increased self-efficacy for the child functioning normally when in pain were significantly correlated with each other, and to parent reports of fewer problems functioning due to physical or emotional problems; parent reports of fewer somatic, behavioral or emotional symptoms; parent reports of increased self-esteem, and unrelated to child pain, age and gender. Additionally, child ratings of increased self-efficacy were significantly correlated with child reports of increased self-esteem and fewer somatic symptoms. Replication with a larger sample size, more complex modeling, and prospective studies are indicated.
PMCID: PMC2394279  PMID: 16740360
Pediatric chronic pain; Self-efficacy; Health belief measures
5.  What do the parents of children who have chronic pain expect from their first visit to a pediatric chronic pain clinic? 
Chronic pain in childhood is increasingly recognized as a significant clinical problem. Best-practice management of pediatric chronic pain in a multidisciplinary pain clinic involves a variety of treatment modalities. It is important that parents of children treated in these settings understand the different treatment options available for their children. By involving parents more effectively, care providers may more efficiently address unmet treatment needs and improve tailoring of treatment programs aimed at increasing function, reducing pain-related disability and improving quality of life.
To explore the expectations held by parents for their first visit to a pediatric multidisciplinary pain clinic.
Fourteen parents completed a paper-based survey exploring their expectations immediately before their first visit to a multidisciplinary pediatric pain clinic in a tertiary care children’s hospital.
Responses from parents suggest a clear desire for information about the causes of their child’s pain, treatment options available at the pain clinic, effective strategies to enhance children’s ability to cope with pain, and the effects of pain on both body and mood. Most parents rated the various treatment options as important for their child. All parents indicated it was very important to have the pain team ‘be there’ for them.
These findings indicate that parents want more information about chronic pain and treatment options. Pediatric chronic pain clinics have the ability to assist children with chronic pain and their families considerably by providing information about chronic pain and the various treatment options available to them.
PMCID: PMC2912615  PMID: 20577658
Adolescents; Children; Chronic pain; Expectations; Parents
6.  Too sick for school? Parent influences on school functioning among children with chronic pain 
Pain  2011;153(2):10.1016/j.pain.2011.11.004.
Parental responses to children with chronic pain have been shown to influence the extent of the child’s functional disability, but these associations have not been well-studied in relation to children’s pain-related school functioning. The current study tests the hypothesis that parental pain catastrophizing and parental protective responses to child pain influence the extent of school impairment in children with chronic pain. A mediational model was tested to determine whether parental protective behaviors serve a mediating role between parental pain catastrophizing and child school impairment. Study participants were a clinical sample of 350 children ages 8–17 with chronic pain and their parents. Measures of pain characteristics, demographic characteristics, child depressive symptoms, school attendance rates, overall school functioning, parental pain catastrophizing and parental protective responses to pain were collected. Results show that, controlling for the known influences of pain intensity and child depressive symptoms, parental pain catastrophizing and parental protective responses to child pain each independently predict child school attendance rates and reports of overall school impairment. Parental protectiveness was found to mediate the association between parental cognitions (i.e. parent pain catastrophizing) and child school functioning outcomes. These findings underscore the importance of intervening with parents to foster parental responses to child pain that help children engage and succeed in the school environment despite pain.
PMCID: PMC3884564  PMID: 22169177
Chronic pain; Functional disability; Parents; Pediatric Pain; Psychosocial functioning; School functioning
7.  Validation and Clinical Application of a Biopsychosocial Model of Pain Intensity and Functional Disability in Patients with a Pediatric Chronic Pain Condition Referred to a Subspecialty Clinic 
Pain Research and Treatment  2013;2013:143292.
Background. Pediatric chronic pain is considered to be a multidimensional construct that includes biological, psychological, and social components. Methods. The 99 enrolled study patients (mean age 13.2 years, 71% female, 81% Caucasian) and an accompanying parent completed a series of health-related questionnaires at the time of their initial appointment in a pediatric chronic pain medicine clinic. Results. Significant correlations (r ≥ 0.30, P < 0.05) were observed between pediatric chronic pain intensity and patient anxiety, patient depression, patient pain coping, parent chronic pain intensity, and parent functional disability. Pediatric chronic pain intensity was significantly associated with patient anxiety (P = 0.002). Significant correlations (r ≥ 0.30, P < 0.05) were observed between pediatric functional disability and patient chronic pain intensity, patient anxiety, patient depression, patient pain coping, parent chronic pain intensity, parent functional disability, parent anxiety, parent depression, and parent stress. Pediatric functional disability was significantly associated with patient chronic pain intensity (P = 0.025), patient anxiety (P = 0.021), patient pain coping (P = 0.009), and parent functional disability (P = 0.027). Conclusions. These findings provide empirical support of a multidimensional Biobehavioral Model of Pediatric Pain. However, the practical clinical application of the present findings and much of the similar previously published data may be tenuous.
PMCID: PMC3819919  PMID: 24251035
8.  An observational study of patient versus parental perceptions of health-related quality of life in children and adolescents with a chronic pain condition: who should the clinician believe? 
Previous pediatric studies have observed a cross-informant variance in patient self-reported health-related quality of life (HRQoL) versus parent proxy-reported HRQoL. This study assessed in older children and adolescents with a variety of chronic pain conditions: 1) the consistency and agreement between pediatric patients’ self-report and their parents’ proxy-report of their child’s HRQoL; 2) whether this patient-parent agreement is dependent on additional demographic and clinical factors; and 3) the relationship between pediatric patient HRQoL and parental reported HRQoL.
The 99 enrolled patients (mean age 13.2 years, 71% female, 81% Caucasian) and an accompanying parent completed the PedsQLTM 4.0 and 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey Version 2 (SF-36v2) at the time of their initial appointment in a pediatric chronic pain medicine clinic. Patients’ and parents’ total, physical, and psychosocial HRQoL scores were analyzed via an intra-class correlation coefficient, Spearman’s correlation coefficient, Wilcoxon signed rank test, and Bland-Altman plot. A multivariable linear regression model was used to evaluate the association between clinical and demographic variables and the difference in patient and proxy scores for the Total Scale Score on the PedsQL™.
With the exception of the psychosocial health domain, there were no statistically significant differences between pediatric patients’ self-report and their parents’ proxy-report of their child’s HRQoL. However, clinically significant patient-parent variation in pediatric HRQoL was observed. Differences in patient-parent proxy PedsQL™ Total Scale Score Scores were not significantly associated with patient age, gender, race, intensity and duration of patient’s pain, household income, parental marital status, and the parent’s own HRQoL on the SF-36v2. No significant relationship existed among patients’ self-reported HRQoL (PedsQL™), parental proxy-reports of the child’s HRQoL, and parents’ own self-reported HRQoL on the SF-36v2.
We observed clinically significant variation between pediatric chronic pain patients’ self-reports and their parents’ proxy-reports of their child’s HRQoL. While whenever possible the pediatric chronic pain patient’s own perspective should be directly solicited, equal attention and merit should be given to the parent’s proxy-report of HRQoL. To do otherwise will obviate the opportunity to use any discordance as the basis for a therapeutic discussion about the contributing dynamic with in parent-child dyad.
PMCID: PMC3478968  PMID: 22824550
Health-related quality of life; Chronic pain; Pediatric; Children; Adolescents; Proxy-report; Child-parent agreement
9.  Obesity in children and adolescents with chronic pain: Associations with pain and activity limitations 
The Clinical journal of pain  2010;26(8):705-711.
Obesity is associated with functional disability in adults with chronic pain, but less is known about obesity among youth with chronic pain. The purpose of this study was to 1) identify the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents receiving treatment for chronic pain, and 2) examine associations between Body Mass Index (BMI), pain intensity, and activity limitations in this population.
Data was obtained from records of 118 patients, ages 8 to 18, seen in a multidisciplinary pediatric pain clinic. Information about age, gender, pain problem, duration and severity, medical diagnoses, medications, height and weight were collected from medical records and intake questionnaires. The CDC’s pediatric BMI calculator was used to obtain percentile and category (underweight, healthy weight, overweight, obese). Children and parents completed the Child Activity Limitations Interview-21 (CALI-21), a self-report measure of activity limitations.
A significantly higher rate of overweight and obesity was observed among youth with chronic pain compared to a normative sample. BMI percentile was predictive of concurrent limitations in vigorous activities, according to parent report.
BMI percentile and weight status may contribute to activity limitations among children and adolescents with chronic pain. Weight status is an important factor to consider in the context of treatment of chronic pain and disability in children and adolescents.
PMCID: PMC2939953  PMID: 20664337
obesity; Body Mass Index (BMI); activity; pediatric; chronic pain
10.  Associations between parent and child pain and functioning in a pediatric chronic pain sample: A mixed methods approach 
This study employed a mixed-method design to test sex-specific parent-child pain associations. Subjects were 179 chronic pain patients aged 11–19 years (mean = 14.34; 72% female) presenting for treatment at a multidisciplinary, tertiary clinic. Mothers and children completed questionnaires prior to their clinic visit, including measures of children’s pain, functioning and psychological characteristics. Mothers also reported on their own pain and psychological functioning. Interviews were conducted with a sub-sample of 34 mothers and children prior to the clinic visit and analyzed using a grounded theory approach. The quantitative data suggest stronger mother-daughter than mother-son pain relationships. The qualitative data suggest that girls’ pain and pain-related disability is related to an overly enmeshed mother-daughter relationship and the presence of maternal models of pain, while boys’ pain and disability is linked to male pain models and criticism and to maternal worry and solicitousness. Boys and girls appear to have developmentally incongruous levels of autonomy and conformity to maternal expectations. The mixed-method data suggest distinct trajectories through which mother and father involvement may be linked to chronic pain in adolescent boys and girls.
PMCID: PMC3105525  PMID: 21643522
Sex differences; parent-child relationships; chronic pain
11.  Characteristics of highly impaired children with severe chronic pain: a 5-year retrospective study on 2249 pediatric pain patients 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:54.
Prevalence of pain as a recurrent symptom in children is known to be high, but little is known about children with high impairment from chronic pain seeking specialized treatment. The purpose of this study was the precise description of children with high impairment from chronic pain referred to the German Paediatric Pain Centre over a 5-year period.
Demographic variables, pain characteristics and psychometric measures were assessed at the first evaluation. Subgroup analysis for sex, age and pain location was conducted and multivariate logistic regression applied to identify parameters associated with extremely high impairment.
The retrospective study consisted of 2249 children assessed at the first evaluation. Tension type headache (48%), migraine (43%) and functional abdominal pain (11%) were the most common diagnoses with a high rate of co-occurrence; 18% had some form of musculoskeletal pain disease. Irrespective of pain location, chronic pain disorder with somatic and psychological factors was diagnosed frequently (43%). 55% of the children suffered from more than one distinct pain diagnosis. Clinically significant depression and general anxiety scores were expressed by 24% and 19% of the patients, respectively. Girls over the age of 13 were more likely to seek tertiary treatment compared to boys. Nearly half of children suffered from daily or constant pain with a mean pain value of 6/10. Extremely high pain-related impairment, operationalized as a comprehensive measure of pain duration, frequency, intensity, pain-related school absence and disability, was associated with older age, multiple locations of pain, increased depression and prior hospital stays. 43% of the children taking analgesics had no indication for pharmacological treatment.
Children with chronic pain are a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge as they often have two or more different pain diagnoses, are prone to misuse of analgesics and are severely impaired. They are at increased risk for developmental stagnation. Adequate treatment and referral are essential to interrupt progression of the chronic pain process into adulthood.
PMCID: PMC3404028  PMID: 22591492
Children; Chronic pain; Impairment; Risk factors; Pediatric
12.  Parent perceptions of adolescent pain expression: The adolescent pain behavior questionnaire 
Pain  2010;151(3):834-842.
Pain behaviors provide meaningful information about adolescents in chronic pain, enhancing their verbal report of pain intensity with information about the global pain experience. Caregivers likely consider these expressions when making judgments about their adolescents’ medical or emotional needs. Current validated measures of pain behavior target acute or procedural pain and young or non-verbal children, while observation systems may be too cumbersome for clinical practice. The objective of this research was to design and evaluate the Adolescent Pain Behavior Questionnaire (APBQ), a parent-report measure of adolescent (11–19 years) pain expressions. This paper provides preliminary results on reliability and validity of the APBQ. Parent-adolescent dyads (N = 138) seen in a multidisciplinary pain management clinic completed the APBQ and questionnaires assessing pain characteristics, quality of life, functional disability, depressive symptoms, and pain catastrophizing. Principal components analysis of the APBQ supported a single component structure. The final APBQ scale contained 23 items with high internal consistency (α= 0.93). No relationship was found between parent-reported pain behaviors and adolescentreported pain intensity. However, significant correlations were found between parent-reported pain behaviors and parent- and adolescent-reported functional disability, pain catastrophizing, depressive symptoms, and poorer quality of life. The assessment of pain behaviors provides qualitatively different information than solely recording pain intensity and disability. It has clinical utility for use in behavioral treatments seeking to reduce disability, poor coping, and distress.
PMCID: PMC3711141  PMID: 20961688
Pain behaviors; Adolescents; Chronic pain; Assessment
13.  A Novel Tool for the Assessment of Pain: Validation in Low Back Pain 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(4):e1000047.
Joachim Scholz and colleagues develop and validate an assessment tool that distinguishes between radicular and axial low back pain.
Adequate pain assessment is critical for evaluating the efficacy of analgesic treatment in clinical practice and during the development of new therapies. Yet the currently used scores of global pain intensity fail to reflect the diversity of pain manifestations and the complexity of underlying biological mechanisms. We have developed a tool for a standardized assessment of pain-related symptoms and signs that differentiates pain phenotypes independent of etiology.
Methods and Findings
Using a structured interview (16 questions) and a standardized bedside examination (23 tests), we prospectively assessed symptoms and signs in 130 patients with peripheral neuropathic pain caused by diabetic polyneuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia, or radicular low back pain (LBP), and in 57 patients with non-neuropathic (axial) LBP. A hierarchical cluster analysis revealed distinct association patterns of symptoms and signs (pain subtypes) that characterized six subgroups of patients with neuropathic pain and two subgroups of patients with non-neuropathic pain. Using a classification tree analysis, we identified the most discriminatory assessment items for the identification of pain subtypes. We combined these six interview questions and ten physical tests in a pain assessment tool that we named Standardized Evaluation of Pain (StEP). We validated StEP for the distinction between radicular and axial LBP in an independent group of 137 patients. StEP identified patients with radicular pain with high sensitivity (92%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 83%–97%) and specificity (97%; 95% CI 89%–100%). The diagnostic accuracy of StEP exceeded that of a dedicated screening tool for neuropathic pain and spinal magnetic resonance imaging. In addition, we were able to reproduce subtypes of radicular and axial LBP, underscoring the utility of StEP for discerning distinct constellations of symptoms and signs.
We present a novel method of identifying pain subtypes that we believe reflect underlying pain mechanisms. We demonstrate that this new approach to pain assessment helps separate radicular from axial back pain. Beyond diagnostic utility, a standardized differentiation of pain subtypes that is independent of disease etiology may offer a unique opportunity to improve targeted analgesic treatment.
Editors' Summary
Pain, although unpleasant, is essential for survival. Whenever the body is damaged, nerve cells detecting the injury send an electrical message via the spinal cord to the brain and, as a result, action is taken to prevent further damage. Usually pain is short-lived, but sometimes it continues for weeks, months, or years. Long-lasting (chronic) pain can be caused by an ongoing, often inflammatory condition (for example, arthritis) or by damage to the nervous system itself—experts call this “neuropathic” pain. Damage to the brain or spinal cord causes central neuropathic pain; damage to the nerves that convey information from distant parts of the body to the spinal cord causes peripheral neuropathic pain. One example of peripheral neuropathic pain is “radicular” low back pain (also called sciatica). This is pain that radiates from the back into the legs. By contrast, axial back pain (the most common type of low back pain) is confined to the lower back and is non-neuropathic.
Why Was This Study Done?
Chronic pain is very common—nearly 10% of American adults have frequent back pain, for example—and there are many treatments for it, including rest, regulated exercise (physical therapy), pain-killing drugs (analgesics), and surgery. However, the best treatment for any individual depends on the exact nature of their pain, so it is important to assess their pain carefully before starting treatment. This is usually done by scoring overall pain intensity, but this assessment does not reflect the characteristics of the pain (for example, whether it occurs spontaneously or in response to external stimuli) or the complex biological processes involved in pain generation. An assessment designed to take such factors into account might improve treatment outcomes and could be useful in the development of new therapies. In this study, the researchers develop and test a new, standardized tool for the assessment of chronic pain that, by examining many symptoms and signs, aims to distinguish between pain subtypes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
One hundred thirty patients with several types of peripheral neuropathic pain and 57 patients with non-neuropathic (axial) low back pain completed a structured interview of 16 questions and a standardized bedside examination of 23 tests. Patients were asked, for example, to choose words that described their pain from a list provided by the researchers and to grade the intensity of particular aspects of their pain from zero (no pain) to ten (the maximum imaginable pain). Bedside tests included measurements of responses to light touch, pinprick, and vibration—chronic pain often alters responses to harmless stimuli. Using “hierarchical cluster analysis,” the researchers identified six subgroups of patients with neuropathic pain and two subgroups of patients with non-neuropathic pain based on the patterns of symptoms and signs revealed by the interviews and physical tests. They then used “classification tree analysis” to identify the six questions and ten physical tests that discriminated best between pain subtypes and combined these items into a tool for a Standardized Evaluation of Pain (StEP). Finally, the researchers asked whether StEP, which took 10–15 minutes, could identify patients with radicular back pain and discriminate them from those with axial back pain in an independent group of 137 patients with chronic low back pain. StEP, they report, accurately diagnosed these two conditions and was well accepted by the patients.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that a standardized assessment of pain-related signs and symptoms can provide a simple, quick diagnostic procedure that distinguishes between radicular (neuropathic) and axial (non-neuropathic) low back pain. This distinction is crucial because these types of back pain are best treated in different ways. In addition, the findings suggest that it might be possible to identify additional pain subtypes using StEP. Because these subtypes may represent conditions in which different pain mechanisms are acting, classifying patients in this way might eventually enable physicians to tailor treatments for chronic pain to the specific needs of individual patients rather than, as at present, largely guessing which of the available treatments is likely to work best.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Giorgio Cruccu and and Andrea Truini
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides a primer on pain in English and Spanish
In its 2006 report on the health status of the US, the National Center for Health Statistics provides a special feature on the epidemiology of pain, including back pain
The Pain Treatment Topics Web site is a resource, sponsored partly by associations and manufacturers, that provides information on all aspects of pain and its treatment for health care professionals and their patients
Medline Plus provides a brief description of pain and of back pain and links to further information on both topics (in English and Spanish)
The MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia also has a page on low back pain (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC2661253  PMID: 19360087
14.  Changes in willingness to self-manage pain among children and adolescents and their parents enrolled in an intensive interdisciplinary pediatric pain treatment program 
Pain  2012;153(9):10.1016/j.pain.2012.05.027.
The importance of willingness to adopt a self-management approach to chronic pain has been demonstrated in the context of cognitive-behaviorally oriented interdisciplinary pain treatment programs for adults, both as a treatment outcome and as a process that facilitates functional improvements. Willingness to self-manage pain has not been studied in pediatric interdisciplinary pain treatment settings. Study aims were (1) to investigate willingness to self-manage pain among children and parents undergoing intensive interdisciplinary pain treatment and (2) to determine whether increased willingness to self-manage pain influenced functional treatment outcomes. 157 children ages 10-18 and their parents enrolled in a pediatric pain rehabilitation program completed the Pain Stages of Change Questionnaire (PSOCQ youth and parent versions) at pre-treatment, post-treatment, and short-term follow up. They also reported on pain, functional disability, depressive symptoms, fear of pain, and use of passive and accommodative coping strategies. Results show that willingness to self-manage pain increased during treatment among both children and parents, with gains maintained at follow-up. Increases in children’s readiness to self-manage pain from pre- to post-treatment were associated with decreases in functional disability, depressive symptoms, fear of pain, and use of adaptive coping strategies. Increases in parents’ readiness to adopt a pain-self management approach were associated with changes in parent-reported fear of pain but not with other child outcomes. Few associations emerged between pre-treatment willingness to self-manage pain and post-treatment outcomes. Findings suggest that interdisciplinary pediatric pain rehabilitation may facilitate increased willingness to self-manage pain, which is associated with improvements in function and psychological well-being.
PMCID: PMC3884572  PMID: 22749194
Chronic pain; Multidisciplinary Treatment, Parents; Pediatric Pain; Readiness to change
15.  Treatment Preferences for CAM in Children with Chronic Pain 
CAM therapies have become increasingly popular in pediatric populations. Yet, little is known about children's preferences for CAM. This study examined treatment preferences in chronic pediatric pain patients offered a choice of CAM therapies for their pain. Participants were 129 children (94 girls) (mean age = 14.5 years ± 2.4; range = 8–18 years) presenting at a multidisciplinary, tertiary clinic specializing in pediatric chronic pain. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to examine the relationships between CAM treatment preferences and patient's sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, as well as their self-reported level of functioning. Over 60% of patients elected to try at least one CAM approach for pain. The most popular CAM therapies were biofeedback, yoga and hypnosis; the least popular were art therapy and energy healing, with craniosacral, acupuncture and massage being intermediate. Patients with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia (80%) were the most likely to try CAM versus those with other pain diagnoses. In multivariate analyses, pain duration emerged as a significant predictor of CAM preferences. For mind-based approaches (i.e. hypnosis, biofeedback and art therapy), pain duration and limitations in family activities were both significant predictors. When given a choice of CAM therapies, this sample of children with chronic pain, irrespective of pain diagnosis, preferred non-invasive approaches that enhanced relaxation and increased somatic control. Longer duration of pain and greater impairment in functioning, particularly during family activities increased the likelihood that such patients agreed to engage in CAM treatments, especially those that were categorized as mind-based modalities.
PMCID: PMC1978240  PMID: 17965769
functional impairment; mind–body approaches; pain management; pediatric pain; quality of life
16.  Sleep Disturbances in School-age Children with Chronic Pain 
Journal of pediatric psychology  2007;33(3):258-268.
To examine associations between pain, functional outcomes, and sleep disturbances in children with chronic pain, specifically juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), sickle cell disease (SCD), and headache (HA). Sleep disturbances were tested as a risk factor for increased functional disability and decreased health-related quality of life (HRQOL).
One hundred children (JIA n = 30, SCD n = 26, HA n = 44; 8–12 years; 56% female) and their caregivers participated. Children completed questionnaires regarding pain, depression, and functional disability. Caregivers completed questionnaires regarding sociodemographics, child sleep habits, functional disability, and HRQOL.
Levels of overall sleep disturbances were above the clinical cutoff for 53% of children with chronic pain. Sleep disturbances predicted lower physical HRQOL and higher functional disability, according to parent report.
Sleep disturbances are common and associated with daytime functioning in school-age children with chronic pain, suggesting that assessment and treatment of sleep problems is clinically relevant.
PMCID: PMC2824539  PMID: 18079168
children; chronic pain; quality of life; sleep; sleep problems
17.  Functional assessment of pediatric pain patients: Psychometric properties of the Functional Disability Inventory 
Pain  2006;121(1-2):77-84.
The Functional Disability Inventory (FDI; Walker LS, Greene JW. The functional disability inventory: measuring a neglected dimension of child health status. J Pediatr Psychol 1991;16:39–58) assesses activity limitations in children and adolescents with a variety of pediatric conditions. This study evaluated the psychometric properties of the FDI in pediatric pain patients. Participants included 596 patients with chronic abdominal pain, ages 8–17, and a subset of their parents (n = 151) who completed the FDI and measures of pain, limitations in school activities, and somatic and depressive symptoms at a clinic visit. Test–retest reliability was high at 2 weeks (child report, .74; parent-report, .64) and moderate at 3 months (child report, .48; parent report, .39). Internal consistency reliability was excellent, ranging from .86 to .91. Validity was supported by significant correlations of child- and parent-report FDI scores with measures of school-related disability, pain, and somatic symptoms. Study results add to a growing body of empirical literature supporting the reliability and validity of the FDI for functional assessment of pediatric patients with chronic pain.
PMCID: PMC3144698  PMID: 16480823
Functional Disability Inventory; Pain; Validity; Reliability; Functional impairment; Children
18.  Gender differences in pain characteristics of chronic stable angina and perceived physical limitation in patients with coronary artery disease 
Pain  2003;101(0):45-53.
Chronic stable angina pectoris, the chest pain associated with reversible myocardial ischemia has detrimental effects on health-related quality of life, particularly in women. The limited research on gender differences in chronic stable angina suggests that angina may be experienced differently in women and that women report greater functional disability related to angina symptoms. No studies have examined gender differences in chronic stable angina from a multidimensional pain perspective or have included reliable and valid measures of pain that would facilitate comparing chronic angina patients with other chronic pain populations. The purpose of this descriptive study was to examine gender differences in characteristics of chronic stable angina using the short-form McGill pain questionnaire (SF-MPQ) and to explore relationships among these pain characteristics and perceived limitation in performing physical activities in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) (physical limitation subscale of the Seattle angina questionnaire). One hundred and twenty-eight subjects (30.5% women) with stable CAD and angina pectoris documented by a cardiologist completed study questionnaires in an outpatient cardiology clinic. Results of the study suggest that men and women with chronic stable angina had more similarities than differences in chest pain characteristics. No significant gender differences were demonstrated in total sensory or affective intensity scores, the present pain intensity index, or the number of pain words chosen. However, women did report significantly greater pain intensity on the SF-MPQ visual analogue scale. Women were also significantly more likely to describe their chronic angina as ‘hot-burning’ and ‘tender’ and to have greater intensity of pain for these two descriptors. Despite the similarities in pain characteristics, women reported greater physical limitation related to anginal pain. The variables of social status and years diagnosed with CAD significantly interacted with gender in predicting physical limitation suggesting that gender-specific models of physical limitation in angina patients need to be explored. To our knowledge, this is one of the first studies that has assessed chronic anginal pain using a reliable and valid generic pain instrument. More research is needed to better understand the nature of gender differences in functional limitation secondary to anginal pain and the physiologic, cognitive-perceptual and psychosocial mechanisms that lead to angina-related functional disability.
PMCID: PMC4310562  PMID: 12507699
McGill pain questionnaire – short form; Gender differences; Physical functional limitation; Quality of life
19.  The PedsQL™ as a patient-reported outcome in children and adolescents with fibromyalgia: an analysis of OMERACT domains 
Fibromyalgia is a chronic health condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, multiple tender points on physical examination, generalized muscular aching, stiffness, fatigue, nonrestorative sleep pattern, cognitive dysfunction, and mood disturbance. Recently, the Outcome Measures in Rheumatoid Arthritis Clinical Trials (OMERACT) Fibromyalgia Syndrome Workshop ranked and prioritized the domains that should be consistently measured in fibromyalgia clinical trials, specifically, pain, generic health-related quality of life, fatigue, sleep quality, and physical function. The focus of these deliberations was exclusively on adult patients, and to our knowledge, these domains have not been previously tested within a multidimensional framework in children and adolescents with fibromyalgia.
An analysis to determine the feasibility, reliability, and validity of the PedsQL™ 4.0 (Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory™) Generic Core Scales, PedsQL™ Multidimensional Fatigue Scale, and PedsQL™ Rheumatology Module Pain and Hurt Scale as patient-reported outcome (PRO) measures for pediatric patients with fibromyalgia. The PedsQL™ Scales were completed by 59 families in a pediatric rheumatology clinic in a large children's hospital.
The PedsQL™ evidenced minimal missing responses (0.53% patient self-report, 0.70% parent proxy-report), achieved excellent reliability for the Generic Core Scales Total Scale Score (α = 0.88 patient self-report, 0.87 parent proxy-report), the Multidimensional Fatigue Scale Total Scale Score (α = 0.94 patient self-report, 0.94 parent proxy-report), and acceptable reliability for the 4-item Rheumatology Module Pain and Hurt Scale (α = 0.68 patient self-report, 0.75 parent proxy-report). The PedsQL™ Generic Core Scales and Multidimensional Fatigue Scale significantly distinguished between pediatric patients with fibromyalgia and healthy children. Pediatric patients with fibromyalgia self-reported severely impaired physical and psychosocial functioning, significantly lower on most dimensions when compared to pediatric cancer patients receiving cancer treatment, and significantly lower on all dimensions than pediatric patients with other rheumatologic diseases. Patients with fibromyalgia self-reported significantly greater pain and fatigue than pediatric patients with other rheumatologic conditions, and generally more fatigue than pediatric patients receiving treatment for cancer.
The results demonstrate the excellent measurement properties of the PedsQL™ Scales in fibromyalgia. These PedsQL™ Scales measure constructs consistent with the recommended OMERACT Fibromyalgia Syndrome Workshop domains. The findings highlight the severely impaired HRQOL of pediatric patients with fibromyalgia. Regular monitoring of pediatric patients with fibromyalgia will help identify children and adolescents at risk for severely impaired HRQOL. These PedsQL™ Scales are appropriate outcome measures for clinical trials and health services research for pediatric patients with fibromyalgia.
PMCID: PMC1802070  PMID: 17295915
20.  Validation of a self-report questionnaire version of the Child Activity Limitations Interview (CALI): The CALI-21 
Pain  2008;139(3):644-652.
The Child Activity Limitations Interview (CALI) is a measure designed to assess functional impairment due to chronic pain in school-age children. In this study, we present a self-report questionnaire version of the CALI (the CALI-21) that extends the original interview measure. The purpose of the current study was to provide internal consistency, cross-informant reliability and construct validity of the CALI-21 on a clinical sample of children and adolescents with chronic pain conditions. One hundred fifty-five children and adolescents (65 males, 90 females; ages 8–18 years, M = 14.31, SD =2.45) with chronic pain completed questionnaires as part of their clinic intake procedures at their consultation visit in a pediatric pain management clinic. An exploratory factor analysis was conducted to measure latent constructs within the broader domain of functional impairment. Results of the exploratory factor analysis yielded two factors representing limitation in Active and Routine activities on both parent and child report. Parent and child total CALI scores correlated with measures of pain intensity, however, different patterns of correlations emerged between age, pain intensity, depressive symptoms, and the Active and Routine factors. The CALI-21 showed good internal consistency, high cross-informant reliability, and demonstrated construct validity. The CALI-21 provides increased flexibility via the questionnaire format in the assessment of pain-related activity limitations in children. Factor analysis extends information about specific types of activity limitations experienced by children.
PMCID: PMC3166250  PMID: 18692316
21.  Motor function predicts parent-reported musculoskeletal pain in children with cerebral palsy 
The relationship between pain and motor function is not well understood, especially for children and adolescents with communication and motor impairments associated with cerebral palsy (CP).
To determine whether a predictive relationship between motor function and musculoskeletal pain exists in children with CP.
Following informed consent, caregivers of 34 pediatric patients with CP (mean [± SD] age 9.37±4.49 years; 80.0% male) completed pain- and function-related measures. Parents completed the Dalhousie Pain Interview and the Brief Pain Inventory based on a one-week recall to determine whether pain had been experienced in the past week, its general description, possible cause, duration, frequency, intensity and interference with daily function. The Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) was used to classify the motor involvement of the child based on their functional ability and their need for assistive devices for mobility.
GMFCS level significantly predicted parent-reported musculoskeletal pain frequency (P<0.02), duration (P=0.05) and intensity (P<0.01). Duration of pain was significantly related to interference with activities of daily living (P<0.05).
Children with CP with greater motor involvement, as indexed by GMFCS level, may be at risk for increased pain (intensity, frequency and duration) that interfers with activities of daily living. The clinical index of suspicion should be raised accordingly when evaluating children with developmental disability who cannot self-report reliably.
PMCID: PMC3917797  PMID: 24308022
Cerebral palsy; Developmental disability; GMFCS; Motor function; Pain
22.  Anxiety sensitivity and health-related quality of life in children with chronic pain 
Anxiety sensitivity (AS), or the fear of anxiety sensations has been shown to independently predict poorer health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in adults with chronic pain. Specifically, AS was found to contribute to decrements in psychological well-being and social functioning but not to decrements in physical functioning. Existing studies have not examined the relationship between AS and HRQOL in children with chronic pain. The present study used multivariate regression analysis to test the association between AS and self-reported HRQOL in 87 children (62 girls; mean age = 14.4 years ± 2.3) presenting for treatment at a tertiary, multidisciplinary clinic specializing in pediatric chronic pain. After controlling for key sociodemographic and pain-related characteristics, higher AS was associated with poorer perceived general and mental health, greater impairment in family activities, lower self-esteem, increased behavior problems, and more social/academic limitations due to emotional problems. AS accounted for 4% – 28% of incremental variance in these HRQOL domains above and beyond the demographic and pain-related variables. However, AS was not significantly associated with physical functioning or with academic/social limitations due to physical health. Additional research is required to delineate possible mechanisms by which AS may influence certain aspects of children's HRQOL but not others.
The present findings support the evaluation of AS in pediatric chronic pain patients as part of a comprehensive assessment battery. The links between AS and multiple HRQOL domains suggests that treatment components aimed at reducing AS may lead to enhanced psychosocial well-being in children with chronic pain.
PMCID: PMC2084210  PMID: 17613277
health-related quality of life; anxiety sensitivity; children; chronic pain; pain-related anxiety; functional impairment
23.  The Pain Frequency-Severity-Duration Scale as a Measure of Pain: Preliminary Validation in a Pediatric Chronic Pain Sample 
Pain Research and Treatment  2014;2014:653592.
Typically, pain is measured by intensity and sensory characteristics. Although intensity is one of the most common dimensions of pain assessment, it has been suggested that measuring pain intensity in isolation is only capturing part of the pain experience and may not lead to an accurate measurement of how pain impacts a child's daily functioning. The current study aimed to develop a measure that would capture pain intensity along with frequency and duration in a clinical sample of youth diagnosed with chronic pain. The pain-frequency-severity-duration (PFSD) scale was developed and data were collected from a multidisciplinary pain clinic at a large, midwestern children's hospital. Validated measures of functional limitations and health related quality of life were also collected. Significant correlations were found between the PFSD composite score, functional limitations, and health related quality of life. Future research should continue to evaluate this questionnaire utilizing other validated pain measures and other areas potentially impacted by chronic pain and with more diverse samples. This initial finding suggests that the PFSD is a convenient self-reported measure and is strongly related to health related quality of life and functional disability.
PMCID: PMC3918349  PMID: 24579046
24.  How Well Do Clinical Pain Assessment Tools Reflect Pain in Infants? 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(6):e129.
Pain in infancy is poorly understood, and medical staff often have difficulty assessing whether an infant is in pain. Current pain assessment tools rely on behavioural and physiological measures, such as change in facial expression, which may not accurately reflect pain experience. Our ability to measure cortical pain responses in young infants gives us the first opportunity to evaluate pain assessment tools with respect to the sensory input and establish whether the resultant pain scores reflect cortical pain processing.
Methods and Findings
Cortical haemodynamic activity was measured in infants, aged 25–43 wk postmenstrual, using near-infrared spectroscopy following a clinically required heel lance and compared to the magnitude of the premature infant pain profile (PIPP) score in the same infant to the same stimulus (n = 12, 33 test occasions). Overall, there was good correlation between the PIPP score and the level of cortical activity (regression coefficient = 0.72, 95% confidence interval [CI] limits 0.32–1.11, p = 0.001; correlation coefficient = 0.57). Of the different PIPP components, facial expression correlated best with cortical activity (regression coefficient = 1.26, 95% CI limits 0.84–1.67, p < 0.0001; correlation coefficient = 0.74) (n = 12, 33 test occasions). Cortical pain responses were still recorded in some infants who did not display a change in facial expression.
While painful stimulation generally evokes parallel cortical and behavioural responses in infants, pain may be processed at the cortical level without producing detectable behavioural changes. As a result, an infant with a low pain score based on behavioural assessment tools alone may not be pain free.
Rebeccah Slater and colleagues show that although painful stimulation generally evokes parallel cortical and behavioral responses in infants, pain may produce cortical responses without detectable behavioral changes.
Editors' Summary
Pain is a sensory and emotional experience. It is normally triggered by messages transmitted from specialized receptors (nociceptors) in the body to integrative centers in the spinal cord and brainstem and on to the brain, where it undergoes higher sensory and cognitive analysis, allowing the body to respond appropriately to the stimuli. While the experience of pain may be considered to be unpleasant, it is a useful tool in communicating to us and to others that there is something wrong with our bodies. Ultimately, these responses help restrict further damage to the body and start the process of healing.
In a clinical setting, the ability to communicate about pain allows an individual to seek strategies to ease the pain, such as taking analgesics. Being unable to effectively communicate one's experience of pain leaves the individual vulnerable to prolonged suffering. One such vulnerable group is infants.
Ignored and untreated pain in infants has been shown to have immediate and long-term effects as a result of structural and physiological changes within the nervous system. For example, the body responds to untreated pain by increased release of stress hormones, which may be associated with increased morbidity and mortality in the short term. Long-term effects of pain may include altered pain perception, chronic pain syndromes, and somatic complaints such as sleep disturbances, feeding problems, and inability to self-regulate in response to internal and external stressors. It has been proposed that attention deficit disorders, learning disorders, and behavioral problems in later childhood may be linked to repetitive pain in the preterm infant.
Why Was This Study Done?
Until as recently as the 1990s, newborns in some clinical centres underwent surgery with minimal anesthesia. Also, newborns received little or no pain management postoperatively or for painful procedures such as lumbar punctures or circumcisions. Since then, there has been growing awareness amongst clinicians that pain may be experienced from the earliest stages of postnatal life and that inadequate analgesia may lead to the type of long-term consequences mentioned above. However, gauging how much pain infants and young children are experiencing remains a substantial challenge. The researchers in this study wanted to assess the association between cortical pain responses in young infants and currently used tools for the assessment of pain in these infants. These current tools are based on behavioral and physiological measures, such as change in facial expression, and it is possible that these tools do not give an adequate measure of pain especially in infants born preterm.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Twelve clinically stable infants were studied on 33 occasions when they required a heel lance to obtain a blood sample for a clinical reason. The researchers examined the relationship between brain activity and a clinical pain score, calculated using the premature infant pain profile (PIPP) in response to a painful event. Activity in the somatosensory cortex was measured noninvasively by near-infrared spectroscopy, which measures brain regional changes in oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin concentration. The PIPP is a well-established pain score that ascribes a value to infant behavior such as change in facial expression.
They found that changes in brain activity in response to a painful stimulus were related to the PIPP scores. These changes were more strongly linked to the behavioral components of the PIPP, e.g., facial expression, than physiological components, e.g., heart rate. They also found that a positive brain response could occur in the absence of any facial expression.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Behaviors to communicate pain require motor responses to sensory and emotional stimuli. The maturity of this complex system in infants is not clearly understood. The results of this study raise further awareness of the ability of infants to experience pain and highlight the possibility that pain assessment based on behavioral tools alone may underestimate the pain response in infants.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Important papers on pain in human neonates are discussed in the open access Paediatric Pain Letter with links to original articles
The Institute of Child Health in London has a Web site describing a three-year international project on improving the assessment of pain in hospitalized children, with many useful links
The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) provides accurate and up-to-date information and links about pain mechanisms and treatment
PMCID: PMC2504041  PMID: 18578562
25.  Measuring parent beliefs about child acceptance of pain: A preliminary validation of the Chronic Pain Acceptance Questionnaire, parent report 
Pain  2011;152(10):2294-2300.
Parent perceptions of and responses to pain have been identified as important factors in understanding pain-related disability among children and adolescents with chronic pain. The ability to “accept” chronic pain rather than focus on ways to avoid or control it has been linked to positive outcomes in chronic pain research. To examine parent beliefs about child acceptance of pain, the Chronic Pain Acceptance Questionnaire, parent report (CPAQ-P) was developed and administered to 195 parents of children with persistent pain evaluated in a multidisciplinary pain clinic. Analyses support the internal consistency of the CPAQ-P (α= .89) and one-month stability estimates were acceptable for the total scale score (α= .72) and results suggest some responsivity to change. Exploratory factor analysis identified a two-factor model with four items removed from the original 20-item measure. Confirmatory factor analysis strongly supported the modified version. For construct validity, parent beliefs about child acceptance were negatively correlated with parent pain catastrophizing and parent fear of pain. Greater acceptance was also negatively associated protective parent responses to pain. These results support the CPAQ-P as a promising measure for assessing parent beliefs about child acceptance of pain and reinforce the importance of the social context and parental influence on child functioning.
PMCID: PMC3557831  PMID: 21783324
chronic pain; acceptance; child; assessment; parent; social context

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