Child and parent pain catastrophizing and pain from presurgery to 6 weeks postsurgery: examination of cross-sectional and longitudinal actor-partner effects

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Child and parent pain catastrophizing are reported preoperative risk factors for children's acute and persistent postsurgical pain. This study examined dyadic relations between child and parent pain catastrophizing and child and parent ratings of child pain prior to (M = 4.01 days; “baseline”) and following surgery (M = 6.5 weeks; “acute follow-up”), as well changes in pain catastrophizing during this time in 167 youth (86% female; Mage = 14.55 years) undergoing spinal fusion surgery and 1 parent (89% mothers). Actor-partner interdependence models assessed cross-sectional and longitudinal intra- and interpersonal effects. Cross-sectionally, child pain catastrophizing was positively associated with child pain at baseline and acute follow-up (actor effects: βbaseline = 0.288 and βfollow-up = 0.262; P < 0.01), and parents' ratings of child pain at baseline (partner effect: βbaseline = 0.212; P < 0.01). Parent pain catastrophizing was not cross-sectionally associated with ratings of child pain. Longitudinally, higher pain catastrophizing at baseline predicted higher pain catastrophizing at acute follow-up for children (actor effect: β = 0.337; P < 0.01) and parents (actor effect: β = 0.579; P < 0.01) with a significantly smaller effect for children (respondent × actor interaction: β = 0.121; P < 0.05). No longitudinal partner effects for catastrophizing were observed. Baseline child and parent pain catastrophizing did not predict child pain at acute follow-up. In conclusion, child, not parent, pain catastrophizing was associated with children's pre- and postsurgical pain, and showed significantly less stability over time. There is a need to better understand contributors to the stability or changeability of pain catastrophizing, the prospective relation of catastrophizing to pain, and contexts in which child vs parent pain catastrophizing is most influential for pediatric postsurgical pain.

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