Relationships between family and parent characteristics and functional abilities in children with recurrent pain syndromes: an investigation of moderating effects on the pathway from pain to disability

J Pediatr Psychol. 2005 Dec;30(8):698-707. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsj060. Epub 2005 Aug 10.


Objective: To identify family characteristics associated with children's ability to function with recurrent pain.

Methods: Seventy-eight children ages 7-17 years with recurrent pain syndromes [migraine headache or recurrent abdominal pain (RAP)] were recruited from clinic settings. Children completed pain diaries and the Functional Disability Inventory (FDI). Mothers and fathers completed self-report measures of psychological distress, and mothers reported on family environment.

Results: Controlling for the influence of pain intensity, family environment and parental distress jointly predicted children's ability to function with pain. Among children with migraine, family environment moderated the relationship between pain and functional disability; in this group, greater pain associated with more functional disability in children from disruptive family environments, but not in children from more adaptive family environments.

Conclusions: For some pediatric recurrent pain sufferers, family characteristics associate with the extent of pain-related disability and may help identify children likely to experience more impaired functioning in response to recurrent pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / psychology*
  • Abdominal Pain / rehabilitation
  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Chronic Disease
  • Family Relations*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / psychology*
  • Migraine Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Social Environment
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology