The Relationship Between Parent Trait Anxiety and Parent-reported Pain, Solicitous Behaviors, and Quality of Life Impairment in Children With Cancer

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Pain-related disability in youth has been shown to be associated with parental psychological distress and solicitous behaviors. This study sought to investigate how parental anxiety may impact children’s functioning with respect to pain and health-related quality of life in a sample of children with cancer. A total of 353 parents of children treated for cancer completed measures of anxiety, behavioral responses to children’s pain, and of their child’s quality of life and pain. Children ages 8 to 18 completed measures of their own quality of life and pain. Parent anxiety was significantly associated with parent ratings of children’s pain severity (P=0.004) and frequency (P=0.008), as well as parent solicitous responses (P=0.041) and child quality of life. Regression analysis revealed that parent anxiety significantly predicted solicitous behaviors (P=0.006), pain frequency (P=0.043), and child quality of life (P≤0.004). These findings suggest parent anxiety plays a significant role in parent perception of children’s pain and quality of life in pediatric cancer patients. Future research is needed to further clarify the nature of these relationships, which will help identify how parent anxiety may be an important target for pain management in children with cancer.

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