Relationships Among Pain, Protective Parental Responses, and Disability for Adolescents With Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain: The Mediating Role of Pain Catastrophizing

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Children learn to cope with pain within the context of the family and parental responses to pediatric pain can impact health outcomes. The aim of this study was to examine relationships among pain, protective parental responses to pain, functional disability, and pain catastrophizing for adolescents with chronic musculoskeletal pain syndromes.


Initial evaluation records for 138 adolescents with chronic musculoskeletal pain who consulted a pediatric multidisciplinary pain management clinic were examined. Measures were collected at the time of the initial evaluation and included adolescent self-reports of their own usual pain intensity, perceived parental responses to their pain, adolescent functional disability, and pain catastrophizing.


Pain catastrophizing was significantly correlated with pain intensity, protective parental responses to pain, and functional disability. Multiple regression analyses further suggest that pain catastrophizing serves as a mediator of relationships between: (1) pain and disability and (2) protective parenting responses and disability. Evidence supporting a significant indirect effect for pain catastrophizing on disability was found within both models through bootstrap and Sobel analyses.


Pain catastrophizing seems to play an important role in understanding relationships between pain, protective parental responses, and disability for adolescents with musculoskeletal pain. Our findings suggest that strategies that help modify adolescent catastrophic pain beliefs and parental responses to pain, may help improve adolescent functioning.

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