Intergenerational examination of pain and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms among youth with chronic pain and their parents

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Abstract

Introduction:

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms are prevalent among youth with chronic pain, and associated with poorer pain outcomes and health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Conceptual models suggest that parent factors, including parents' own chronic pain, may be linked to higher co-occurring pain and PTSD symptoms and lower HRQoL in children. However, this has not been empirically examined.

Objectives:

The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between parental chronic pain and (1) parent PTSD symptoms, (2) child PTSD symptoms, (3) child pain outcomes, and (4) child HRQoL in a sample of treatment-seeking youth with chronic pain and their parents.

Methods:

Youth (n = 173) aged 8 to 18 years and parents (n = 204) recruited from a tertiary-level pediatric chronic pain program completed psychometrically-sound measures of pain and PTSD symptoms. Youth also completed measures of pain interference and HRQoL.

Results:

Half of the parents in this sample reported chronic pain. A series of analyses of covariances revealed that parents with vs without chronic pain reported significantly higher PTSD symptoms, and children of parents with vs without chronic pain reported significantly higher PTSD symptoms and pain interference and lower HRQoL.

Conclusion:

Findings from this study suggest that having a parent with chronic pain may confer additional risk for children with chronic pain experiencing higher PTSD symptoms, poorer pain outcomes, and lower HRQoL than having a parent without chronic pain. This could be due to genetics or social learning. Future longitudinal research is needed to understand how parental pain influences co-occurring pain and PTSD symptoms, and HRQoL, in children.

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