Children’s Pain Threat Appraisal and Catastrophizing Moderate the Impact of Parent Verbal Behavior on Children’s Symptom Complaints

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Objective  We tested the hypothesis that pain threat appraisal and catastrophizing by children with functional abdominal pain (FAP) will moderate the relation between parent verbal behavior and children’s symptom complaints following experimentally induced visceral discomfort. Methods  Thirty-three pediatric patients with FAP and their parents participated. Children completed measures of pain threat appraisal and catastrophizing. Weeks later they completed the Water Load Symptom Provocation Test to induce visceral discomfort. Spontaneous parent–child interactions during child discomfort were audiotaped and coded for content. Results  Parent symptom-related talk was associated with more child symptom complaints and parent non-symptom-related talk with fewer child complaints. The relation between symptom talk and complaints was greater for children with high catastrophizing. Non-symptom talk was associated with fewer complaints for children with high threat appraisals. Conclusions  Child characteristics should be considered in research on the relation between parent behavior and children’s symptom complaints.

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