Chronic pain in adolescence: parental responses, adolescent coping, and their impact on adolescent's pain behaviors

J Pediatr Psychol. 2008 Sep;33(8):894-904. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsn029. Epub 2008 Mar 28.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to examine relations among parental responses, adolescent pain coping, and pain behaviors in adolescents with chronic pain.

Methods: This study included 217 adolescents (12-17 years) evaluated at a multidisciplinary pain clinic and their parents. Adolescents completed measures assessing their pain, pain coping responses, functional disability, and somatic symptoms. Parents reported on their responses to their adolescent's pain.

Results: Passive and active coping interacted with parental protective behavior to predict adolescents' pain behaviors. Contrary to expectations, among adolescents who reported infrequent use of passive or active coping strategies, higher levels of parental protective behavior were associated with higher levels of disability and somatic symptoms. Discussion Among adolescents who report infrequent use of passive and active coping responses, parental protective responses to pain may inadvertently promote greater disability and symptom complaints. Parental responses to pain may be an important target to treat adolescent chronic pain.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Chronic Disease
  • Education
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illness Behavior*
  • Male
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents / psychology*