Extant research comparing laboratory pain responses of children with chronic pain with healthy controls is mixed, with some studies indicating lower pain responsivity for controls and others showing no differences. Few studies have included different pain modalities or assessment protocols.
To compare pain responses among 26 children (18 girls) with chronic pain and matched controls (mean age 14.8 years), to laboratory tasks involving thermal heat, pressure and cold pain. Responses to cold pain were assessed using two different protocols: an initial trial of unspecified duration and a second trial of specified duration.
Four trials of pressure pain and of thermal heat pain stimuli, all of unspecified duration, were administered, as well as the two cold pain trials. Heart rate and blood pressure were assessed at baseline and after completion of the pain tasks.
Pain tolerance and pain intensity did not differ between children with chronic pain and controls for the unspecified trials. For the specified cold pressor trial, 92% of children with chronic pain completed the entire trial compared with only 61.5% of controls. Children with chronic pain exhibited a trend toward higher baseline and postsession heart rate and reported more anxiety and depression symptoms compared with control children.
Contextual factors related to the fixed trial may have exerted a greater influence on pain tolerance in children with chronic pain relative to controls. Children with chronic pain demonstrated a tendency toward increased arousal in anticipation of and following pain induction compared with controls.
Acute pain; Cold pressor task; Laboratory pain; Pain intensity; Pressure pain; Thermal heat pain
Adult studies have demonstrated that increased resting blood pressure (BP) levels correlate with decreased pain sensitivity. However, few studies have examined the relationship between BP and experimental pain sensitivity among children.
This study investigated the association between resting BP levels and experimental pain tolerance, intensity, and unpleasantness in healthy children. We also explored whether these BP–pain relationships were age and gender dependent.
Participants underwent separate 4-trial blocks of cutaneous pressure and thermal pain stimuli, and 1 trial of a cold pain stimulus in counterbalanced order.
A total of 235 healthy children (49.6% female; mean age 12.7 [2.9] years; age range 8–18 years) participated. The study revealed specific gender-based BP–pain relationships. Girls with higher resting systolic BP levels were found to have lower thermal intensity ratings than girls with lower resting systolic BP levels; this relationship was stronger among adolescent girls than among younger girls. Among young girls (8–11 years), those with higher resting diastolic BP (DBP) levels were found to have lower cold intensity and unpleasantness as well as lower thermal intensity ratings than did young girls with lower resting DBP levels; these DBP–pain response relationships were not seen among adolescent girls.
Age, rather than resting BP, was predictive of laboratory pain ratings in boys. The findings suggest that the relationship between BP and experimental pain is age and gender dependent. These aspects of cardiovascular relationships to pain in males and females need further attention to understand their clinical importance.
blood pressure; children; gender differences; laboratory pain
To identify risk factors for adverse psychological outcomes among adult siblings of long-term survivors of childhood cancer.
Cross-sectional, self-report data from 3,083 adult siblings (mean age 29 years, range 18-56 years) of 5+ year survivors of childhood cancer were analyzed to assess psychological outcomes as measured by the Brief Symptom Inventory-18 (BSI-18). Sociodemographic and health data, reported by both the siblings and their matched cancer survivors were explored as risk factors for adverse sibling psychological outcomes through multivariable logistic regression.
Self-reported symptoms of psychological distress, as measured by the global severity index of the BSI-18, were reported by 3.8% of the sibling sample. Less than 1.5% of siblings reported elevated scores on two or more of the subscales of the BSI-18. Risk factors for sibling depression included having a survivor brother (OR 2.22, 95% CI 1.42-3.55), and having a survivor with impaired general health (OR 2.15, 95% CI 1.18-3.78). Siblings who were younger than the survivor reported increased global psychological distress (OR 1.81, 95% CI 1.05-3.12), as did siblings of survivors reporting global psychological distress (OR 2.32, 95% CI 1.08-4.59). Siblings of sarcoma survivors reported more somatization than did siblings of leukemia survivors (OR 2.07, 95% CI 1.05-3.98).
These findings suggest that siblings of long-term childhood cancer survivors are psychologically healthy in general. There are, however, small subgroups of siblings at risk for long-term psychological impairment who may benefit from preventive risk-reduction strategies during childhood while their sibling with cancer is undergoing treatment.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease characterized by inflammation of joints and associated fatigue, deteriorated range of motion, and impaired psychosocial functioning. Young adults with RA are at a particular risk for compromised health-related quality of life, and there is a need for safe, effective complementary treatment in addition to traditional medical approaches. The aim of the present study was to use face-to-face participant interviews, conducted before and after an Iyengar yoga (IY) program, to examine mechanisms through which yoga may be beneficial to young adults with RA.
This pilot study utilized a single-arm design where all participants received the intervention. Classes were taught twice per week (1.5 hours each) for 6 weeks by an IY teacher qualified in therapeutics. Interview themes included participants’ baseline expectations about yoga and viewpoints as to how their functioning had been impacted by the IY intervention were examined. Five young adults with RA aged 24–31 years (mean = 28; 80% female) completed the yoga intervention. Participants consistently reported that yoga helped with energy, relaxation and mood and they discussed perceived mechanisms for how yoga impacted well-being. Mechanisms included physical changes such as range of motion and physiological awareness, and psychospiritual developments such as acceptance, coping, self-efficacy and mindfulness. Though the study is limited, participants’ responses provide compelling evidence that IY for RA patients is an intervention worthy of further exploration. The mechanisms and outcomes reported by participants support a biopsychosocial model, which proposes that yoga benefits patients through both physiological and psychospiritual changes.
Iyengar yoga; Rheumatoid arthritis; Qualitative data
Children, adolescents, and young adults do not typically feature in clinics, studies, and mainstream notions of chronic pain. Yet many young people experience debilitating pain for extended periods of time. Chronic pain in these formative years may be especially important to treat in order for young patients to maintain life tasks and to prevent protracted disability. The Pediatric Pain Program at the University of California, Los Angeles, is a multidisciplinary treatment program designed for young people with chronic pain and their families. We offer both conventional and complementary medicine to treat the whole individual. This article describes the work undertaken in the clinic and our newly developed Yoga for Youth Research Program. The clinical and research programs fill a critical need to provide service to youth with chronic pain and to scientifically study one of the more popular complementary treatments we offer, Iyengar yoga.
chronic pain; complementary medicine; pediatrics; yoga
A link between alexithymia and somatization has been widely established, yet little is known about different factors that may influence this relationship. Evidence supporting the idea of psychopathology as a mediator has been presented but not widely tested, particularly in children. The present study examined depressive symptoms as a mediator of alexithymia and somatization in a sample of healthy children in order to better understand the alexithymia-somatization link from a developmental perspective. Results indicated that depression significantly partially mediated this relationship, at least for two facets of alexithymia (difficulty identifying and describing feelings). Possible mechanisms, implications, and directions for future research are discussed.
youth; depression; emotions; health psychology; mediator
Research in adult populations has highlighted sex differences in cortisol concentrations and laboratory pain responses, with men exhibiting higher cortisol concentrations and reduced pain responses compared with women. Yet, less is known about the relationship of cortisol concentrations to pain in children.
This study examined associations between sex, cortisol, and pain responses to laboratory pain tasks in children.
Salivary cortisol samples from subjects aged 8 to 18 years were obtained at baseline after entering the laboratory (SCb), after the completion of all pain tasks (SC1), and at the end of the session (SC2), 20 minutes later. Blood cortisol samples were also taken after completion of the pain tasks (BC1) and at the end of the session (BC2), 20 minutes later. Subjects completed 3 counterbalanced laboratory pain tasks: pressure, heat, and cold pressor tasks. Pain measures included pain tolerance, and self-reported pain intensity and unpleasantness for all 3 tasks.
The study included 235 healthy children and adolescents (119 boys, 116 girls; mean age, 12.7 years; range, 8–18 years; 109 [46.4%] were in early puberty; 94 [40.0%] white). Salivary and blood cortisol levels were highly correlated with each other. Salivary cortisol levels for the total sample and for boys and girls declined significantly from SCb to SC1 (P < 0.01), although there were no significant changes from SC1 to SC2. No significant sex differences in salivary or blood cortisol levels were evident at any assessment point. Separate examination of the cortisol–laboratory pain response relationships by sex (controlling for age and time of day) suggested different sex-specific patterns. Higher cortisol levels were associated with lower pain reactivity (ie, increased pressure tolerance) among boys compared with girls at SC1, SC2, and BC1 (SC1: r = 0.338, P = 0.003; SC2: r = 0.271, P = 0.020; and BC1: r = 0.261, P = 0.026). However, higher cortisol levels were related to higher pain response (ie, increased cold intensity [BC2: r = 0.229, P = 0.048] and unpleasantness [BC1: r = 0.237, P = 0.041]) in girls compared with boys.
These findings suggest important sex differences in cortisol–pain relationships in children and adolescents. Cortisol levels were positively associated with increased pain tolerance in boys and increased pain sensitivity in girls.
pain; children; cortisol; sex differences
Lack of health insurance is a key barrier to accessing care for chronic conditions and cancer screening. We examined the influence of insurance type (private, public, none) on survivor-focused and general preventive health care in adult survivors of childhood cancer.
The Childhood Cancer Survivor Study is a retrospective cohort study of childhood cancer survivors diagnosed between 1970–1986. Among 8425 adult survivors, the Relative Risk (RR), 95% confidence interval (CI) of receiving survivor-focused and general preventive health care were estimated for uninsured (n=1390) and publicly insured (n=640), comparing to privately insured (n=6395).
Uninsured survivors were less likely than privately insured to report a cancer-related (adjusted RR=0.83, 95% CI, 0.75–0.91) or a cancer center visit (adjusted RR=0.83, 95% CI, 0.71–0.98). Uninsured survivors had lower levels of utilization in all measures of care in comparison with privately insured. In contrast, publicly insured survivors were more likely to report a cancer-related (adjusted RR=1.22, 95% CI, 1.11–1.35) or a cancer center visit (adjusted RR=1.41, 95% CI, 1.18–1.70) than privately insured. While having a similar utilization level of general health examinations, publicly insured survivors were less likely to report Papanicolaou smear or dental examinations.
Among this large, socioeconomically diverse cohort, publicly insured survivors utilize survivor-focused health care at rates at least as high as survivors with private insurance. Uninsured survivors have lower utilization to both survivor-focused and general preventive health care.
Childhood Cancer Survivors; Health Insurance; Health Care Access; Survivorship; Delivery of Health Care
Few studies have focused on identifying predictors of medical consultation for pain in healthy children and adolescents.
This investigation sought to identify parent and child laboratory and non-laboratory predictors of pediatric healthcare utilization for pain problems.
Participants were 210 healthy children and adolescents (102 girls), aged 8–17 years who took part in a laboratory pain session.
Three months after the laboratory session, participants were contacted by telephone to ascertain whether they had experienced pain and whether they had seen a healthcare professional for pain. Zero-order correlations among sociodemographics, child laboratory pain responses, parent physical/mental health status and medical consultation for pain were conducted to identify relevant correlates of pediatric healthcare utilization; these correlates were subjected to multivariate analyses.
Bivariate analyses indicated that higher anticipated pain and bother for the cold pressor task, as well as poorer parent physical health status, were associated with pediatric medical consultation for pain, but only among girls. Sequential logistic regression analyses controlling for child age indicated that only parent physical health status, not the laboratory indicators, significantly predicted healthcare consultation for pain among girls. No parent or child correlates of care-seeking for pain emerged for boys.
The findings suggest that parents’ perceived physical health plays a role in determining whether medical care is sought for pain complaints in healthy girls. These results suggest that interventions to assist parents in managing their own physical health problems may lead to reductions in medical consultation for girls’ pain.
pediatric health care; parent health status; parent-child relationship; experimental pain; acute pain
This article surveys the use of pain charts or pain drawings in eliciting information about the location of pain symptoms from children and adolescents. While pain charts are widely used and have been incorporated in multidimensional pediatric pain questionnaires and diaries, they present a number of issues requiring further study. These include, in particular, the number and size of different locations or areas of pain that need to be differentiated; the age at which children are able to complete pain charts unassisted; and whether the intensity and other qualities of pain can be accurately recorded on pain charts by children and adolescents. Based on data currently available, it is suggested that the unassisted use of pain charts be restricted to children aged 8 years or over, while for clinical purposes many younger children can complete pain charts with adult support. Where the investigator’s interest is restricted to a few areas of the body, checklists of body parts may have greater utility than pain charts. A new pain chart adapted for use in studies of pediatric recurrent and chronic pain is presented.
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.
Sex differences; parent-child relationships; chronic pain
Survivors of childhood acute myeloid leukemia (AML) face increased risks of chronic disease and secondary malignancies. Substance exposure may compound these risks.
Participants were diagnosed with AML at <21 years of age and survived ≥5 years following diagnosis. All underwent chemotherapy alone or followed by autologous BMT (chemo ± autoBMT) or underwent allogeneic BMT (alloBMT) if an HLA-matched related donor was available. Survivors completed a health questionnaire and a Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).
Of eligible survivors, 117 were ≥18 years of age and completed a YRBS. Survivors were a mean age of 10 years at diagnosis and 24 years at interview. Of the substance exposures assessed by YRBS, tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana were most common. Twenty-two percent (22%) had smoked cigarettes in the last 30 days. One-quarter (25%) reported binge drinking in the last month. None of these exposures varied by treatment group. Less than 10% of survivors reported cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine use. Men were more likely to report high substance exposure (P = 0.004). Sadness/suicidality score was associated with cancer-related anxiety (P = 0.006) and multiple health conditions (P = 0.006).
This analysis reveals exposure to tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana in young adults with few differences based on treatment received. Survivors with cancer-related anxiety or multiple health conditions were more likely to report sadness/hopelessness.
leukemia; pediatric; smoking; survivor
Little is known about how sociodemographic factors relate to children’s chronic pain. This paper describes the pain, health, and sociodemographic characteristics of a cohort of children presenting to an urban tertiary chronic pain clinic and documents the role of age, sex and minority status on pain-related characteristics. A multidisciplinary, tertiary clinic specializing in pediatric chronic pain. Two hundred and nineteen patients and their parents were given questionnaire packets to fill out prior to their intake appointment which included demographic information, clinical information, Child Health Questionnaire – Parent Report, Functional Disability Index – Parent Report, Child Somatization Index – Parent Report, and a Pain Intensity Scale. Additional clinical information was obtained from patients’ medical records via chart review. This clinical sample exhibited compromised functioning in a number of domains, including school attendance, bodily pain, and health compared to normative data. Patients also exhibited high levels of functional disability. Minority children evidenced decreased sleep, increased somatization, higher levels of functional disability, and increased pain intensity compared to Caucasians. Caucasians were more likely to endorse headaches than minorities, and girls were more likely than boys to present with fibromyalgia. Younger children reported better functioning than did teens. The results indicate that sociodemographic factors are significantly associated with several pain-related characteristics in children with chronic pain. Further research must address potential mechanisms of these relationships and applications for treatment.
Chronic pain; pediatric; clinical cohort; ethnic differences
We sought to measure self-reported neurocognitive functioning among survivors of non-central nervous system (CNS) childhood cancers, overall and compared with a sibling cohort, and to identify factors associated with worse functioning.
In a retrospective cohort study, 5937 adult survivors of non-CNS cancers and 382 siblings completed a validated neuropsychological instrument with subscales in task efficiency, emotional regulation, organization, and memory. Scores were converted to T scores; scores in the worst 10% of siblings’ scores (ie, T score ≥63) were defined as impaired. Non-CNS cancer survivors and siblings were compared with multivariable linear regression and log-binomial regression. Among survivors, log-binomial models assessed the association of patient and treatment factors with neurocognitive dysfunction. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Non-CNS cancer survivors had similar or slightly worse (<0.5 standard deviation) mean test scores for all four subscales than siblings. However, frequencies of impaired survivors were approximately 50% higher than siblings in task efficiency (13.0% of survivors vs 7.3% of siblings), memory (12.5% vs 7.6%), and emotional regulation (21.2% vs 14.4%). Impaired task efficiency was most often identified in patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia who received cranial radiation therapy (18.1% with impairment), myeloid leukemia who received cranial radiation therapy (21.2%), and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (13.9%). In adjusted analysis, diagnosis age of younger than 6 years, female sex, cranial radiation therapy, and hearing impairment were associated with impairment.
A statistically and clinically significantly higher percentage of self-reported neurocognitive impairment was found among survivors of non-CNS cancers than among siblings.
This protocol is for a study of a new program to improve outcomes in children suffering from chronic pain disorders, such as fibromyalgia, recurrent headache, or recurrent abdominal pain. Although teaching active pain self-management skills through cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or a complementary program such as hypnotherapy or yoga has been shown to improve pain and functioning, children with low expectations of skill-building programs may lack motivation to comply with therapists' recommendations. This study will develop and test a new manualized peer-mentorship program which will provide modeling and reinforcement by peers to other adolescents with chronic pain (the mentored participants). The mentorship program will encourage mentored participants to engage in therapies that promote the learning of pain self-management skills and to support the mentored participants' practice of these skills. The study will examine the feasibility of this intervention for both mentors and mentored participants, and will assess the preliminary effectiveness of this program on mentored participants' pain and functional disability.
This protocol will recruit adolescents ages 12-17 with chronic pain and randomly assign them to either peer mentorship or a treatment-as-usual control group. Mentored participants will be matched with peer mentors of similar age (ages 14-18) who have actively participated in various treatment modalities through the UCLA Pediatric Pain Program and have learned to function successfully with a chronic pain disorder. The mentors will present information to mentored participants in a supervised and monitored telephone interaction for 2 months to encourage participation in skill-building programs. The control group will receive usual care but without the mentorship intervention. Mentored and control subjects' pain and functioning will be assessed at 2 months (end of intervention for mentored participants) and at 4 month follow-up to see if improvements persist. Measures of treatment adherence, pain, disability, and anxiety and depression will be assessed throughout study participation. Qualitative interviews for mentors, mentored participants, and control subjects will also be administered.
Although sex differences in anxiety sensitivity or the specific tendency to fear anxiety-related sensations have been reported in adults with clinical pain, there is a dearth of relevant research among children. This study examined sex differences in anxiety sensitivity across unselected samples of 187 children with chronic pain (71.7% girls; mean age = 14.5) and 202 non-clinical children (52% girls; mean age = 13.6). Girls in the chronic pain and non-clinical samples reported elevated anxiety sensitivity relative to boys irrespective of clinical status. Girls with chronic pain also reported heightened fears of the physical consequences of anxiety compared to non-clinical girls but there were no such differences for psychological or social concerns. Among boys, anxiety sensitivity did not differ between the chronic pain and non-clinical groups. Future longitudinal research may examine whether specific fears of anxiety-related somatic sensations constitutes a sex-based vulnerability factor in the development of chronic pain.
chronic pain; children; anxiety sensitivity; anxiety; sex differences
Low-income youth experience social-emotional problems linked to chronic stress that are exacerbated by lack of access to care. Drumming is a non-verbal, universal activity that builds upon a collectivistic aspect of diverse cultures and does not bear the stigma of therapy. A pretest-post-test non-equivalent control group design was used to assess the effects of 12 weeks of school counselor-led drumming on social-emotional behavior in two fifth-grade intervention classrooms versus two standard education control classrooms. The weekly intervention integrated rhythmic and group counseling activities to build skills, such as emotion management, focus and listening. The Teacher's Report Form was used to assess each of 101 participants (n = 54 experimental, n = 47 control, 90% Latino, 53.5% female, mean age 10.5 years, range 10–12 years). There was 100% retention. ANOVA testing showed that intervention classrooms improved significantly compared to the control group in broad-band scales (total problems (P < .01), internalizing problems (P < .02)), narrow-band syndrome scales (withdrawn/depression (P < .02), attention problems (P < .01), inattention subscale (P < .001)), Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-oriented scales (anxiety problems (P < .01), attention deficit/hyperactivity problems (P < .01), inattention subscale (P < .001), oppositional defiant problems (P < .03)), and other scales (post-traumatic stress problems (P < .01), sluggish cognitive tempo (P < .001)). Participation in group drumming led to significant improvements in multiple domains of social-emotional behavior. This sustainable intervention can foster positive youth development and increase student-counselor interaction. These findings underscore the potential value of the arts as a therapeutic tool.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, disabling disease that can compromise mobility, daily functioning, and health-related quality of life, especially in older adolescents and young adults. In this project, we will compare a standardized Iyengar yoga program for young people with rheumatoid arthritis to a standard care wait-list control condition.
Seventy rheumatoid arthritis patients aged 16-35 years will be randomized into either the 6-week Iyengar yoga program (12 - 1.5 hour sessions twice weekly) or the 6-week wait-list control condition. A 20% attrition rate is anticipated. The wait-list group will receive the yoga program following completion of the first arm of the study. We will collect data quantitatively, using questionnaires and markers of disease activity, and qualitatively using semi-structured interviews. Assessments include standardized measures of general and arthritis-specific function, pain, mood, and health-related quality of life, as well as qualitative interviews, blood pressure/resting heart rate measurements, a medical exam and the assessment of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Data will be collected three times: before treatment, post-treatment, and two months following the treatment.
Results from this study will provide critical data on non-pharmacologic methods for enhancing function in rheumatoid arthritis patients. In particular, results will shed light on the feasibility and potential efficacy of a novel intervention for rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, paving the way for a larger clinical trial.
Irritable bowel syndrome affects as many as 14% of high school-aged students. Symptoms include discomfort in the abdomen, along with diarrhea and/or constipation and other gastroenterological symptoms that can significantly impact quality of life and daily functioning. Emotional stress appears to exacerbate irritable bowel syndrome symptoms suggesting that mind-body interventions reducing arousal may prove beneficial. For many sufferers, symptoms can be traced to childhood and adolescence, making the early manifestation of irritable bowel syndrome important to understand. The current study will focus on young people aged 14-26 years with irritable bowel syndrome. The study will test the potential benefits of Iyengar yoga on clinical symptoms, psychospiritual functioning and visceral sensitivity. Yoga is thought to bring physical, psychological and spiritual benefits to practitioners and has been associated with reduced stress and pain. Through its focus on restoration and use of props, Iyengar yoga is especially designed to decrease arousal and promote psychospiritual resources in physically compromised individuals. An extensive and standardized teacher-training program support Iyengar yoga's reliability and safety. It is hypothesized that yoga will be feasible with less than 20% attrition; and the yoga group will demonstrate significantly improved outcomes compared to controls, with physiological and psychospiritual mechanisms contributing to improvements.
Sixty irritable bowel syndrome patients aged 14-26 will be randomly assigned to a standardized 6-week twice weekly Iyengar yoga group-based program or a wait-list usual care control group. The groups will be compared on the primary clinical outcomes of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, quality of life and global improvement at post-treatment and 2-month follow-up. Secondary outcomes will include visceral pain sensitivity assessed with a standardized laboratory task (water load task), functional disability and psychospiritual variables including catastrophizing, self-efficacy, mood, acceptance and mindfulness. Mechanisms of action involved in the proposed beneficial effects of yoga upon clinical outcomes will be explored, and include the mediating effects of visceral sensitivity, increased psychospiritual resources, regulated autonomic nervous system responses and regulated hormonal stress response assessed via salivary cortisol.
This study examined the relationships among anxiety sensitivity (AS), catastrophizing, somatization, and pain in 240 non-clinical children (121 girls; mean age = 12.7 years). Children with pain problems (n = 81; 33.8%) reported greater AS and catastrophizing (p’s < .01) relative to children without pain problems. AS but not catastrophizing was significantly associated with current pain. However, both AS and catastrophizing were significantly associated with somatization. AS and catastrophizing represent related but partially distinct cognitive constructs that may be targeted by interventions aimed at alleviating pain and somatization in children.
Children; pain; somatization; catastrophizing; anxiety sensitivity
Chronic or recurrent non-malignant pain is a significant problem for many children and adolescents and often limits the child's participation in normal physical, academic, and social activities.
To better understand the impact of chronic or recurrent pain on children within the context of their own lives and experiences, using qualitative analysis, and to suggest the applications of the narrative method to clinical practice.
Grounded theory and narrative analysis of in-depth semi-structured interviews conducted at baseline and 6-12 months following clinic intake.
53 children ages 10-17 presenting with recurrent pain to a university-based pain clinic. This sample did not differ significantly from the overall clinic population during the study period.
Five common themes were identified; these suggested that isolation, changed self-perception, activity limitations and concerns about barriers to future goals, and lack of medical validation were important to the children's perceived impact of pain on their lives. Five narratives were identified, each of which provided a coherent, integrated description of the factors and perspectives presented by a specific subset of children at baseline. These narratives were then compared against the children's reports of improvement in pain and functioning at 6-12 months; from this comparison, a sixth narrative of therapeutic change emerged for some of the children.
The authors suggest that physicians and parents who take the initiative to elicit the child's narrative can help the child to rewrite the story to promote therapeutic change, a better outcome, and higher satisfaction.
pediatric pain; narrative medicine; functioning
Prior research has demonstrated links between psychosocial factors, including negative life events (NLE) and pain in children. The present study examined sex differences in the relationship between mother-reported NLE, child NLE, mother somatization and children’s laboratory pain responses for heat, cold and pressure pain tasks. We predicted that maternal NLE would be moderately associated with girls’ pain responses, but would not be associated with boys’ pain responses.
Participants were 176 non-clinical children (89 boys) aged 8–18 years (mean = 12.2, SD = 2.7) and their mothers. Mothers and children completed questionnaires assessing their perceptions of NLE experienced in the previous 12 months.
Contrary to predictions, maternal NLE were related to pain responses in both boys and girls, although in opposite directions. Thus, increased maternal stress was associated with increased pain responses in girls but with decreased pain responses in boys. In addition, the impact of maternal NLE was only apparent for heat and pain tasks, indicating differential effects for various types of pain.
The current findings underscore the importance of family variables in understanding sex differences in children’s pain. Future research is needed to examine the mechanisms within the parent-child relationship that contribute to sex-differentiated pain outcomes, particularly under conditions of exacerbated parental stress.
negative life events; children’s laboratory pain; sex differences
Survival for childhood cancer has increased dramatically over the last 40 years with 5-year survival rates now approaching 80%. For many diagnostic groups, rapid increases in survival began in the 1970s with the broader introduction of multimodality approaches, often including combination chemotherapy with or without radiation therapy. With this increase in rates of survivorship has come the recognition that survivors are at risk for adverse health and quality-of-life outcomes, with risk being influenced by host-, disease-, and treatment-related factors. In 1994, the US National Cancer Institute funded the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study, a multi-institutional research initiative designed to establish a large and extensively characterized cohort of more than 14,000 5-year survivors of childhood and adolescent cancer diagnosed between 1970 and 1986. This ongoing study, which reflects the single most comprehensive body of information ever assembled on childhood and adolescent cancer survivors, provides a dynamic framework and resource to investigate current and future questions about childhood cancer survivors.