Chronic pain and its impact on quality of life in adolescents and their families

J Pediatr Psychol. 2001 Apr-May;26(3):145-53. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/26.3.145.


Objective: To study chronic pain not caused by somatic disease in adolescents and the effect of pain on the quality of life of the adolescents and their families.

Methods: One hundred twenty-eight youngsters (12-18 years) who had reported chronic pain kept a 3-week diary of their pain and completed a questionnaire on quality of life. Their mothers completed a questionnaire on the impact of their youngster's pain on the family.

Results: The most prevalent pains were limb pain, headache, abdominal, and back pain. The pain increased during the day, with the highest frequency around dinner time and the highest intensity around bedtime. Girls reported more intense and more frequent pain than boys. The higher the intensity and frequency of the pain, the lower the self-reported quality of life of the female or male adolescent, especially regarding psychological functioning (e.g. feeling less at ease), physical status (a greater incidence of other somatic complaints), and functional status (more impediments to leisure and daily activities). Chronic pain also had a negative impact on family life. The mothers reported restrictions, particularly in social life, and problems dealing with the stress of the adolescent's pain.

Conclusions: Chronic pain, not caused by somatic disease, was present to a higher degree in girls; the pain increased during the day and had a negative impact on quality of life of the adolescents and the family. There is a need for future research aimed at identifying risk factors for chronic pain and pain-associated quality of life in children and adolescents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Nuclear Family / psychology*
  • Pain* / physiopathology
  • Pain* / psychology
  • Quality of Life*