Agreement of parents and children on characteristics of pediatric headache, other pains, somatic symptoms, and depressive symptoms in an epidemiologic study

Clin J Pain. 2009 Jan;25(1):58-64. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e31817fc62d.


Background: The objective of the present study was to assess the concordance between parent and child report regarding different domains of pediatric health, headache in particular. In addition, the influence of potential moderator variables on the agreement between parents and children was examined.

Methodology: In an epidemiologic study on a randomly drawn sample of households with at least 1 child in the family between 7 and 14 years of age (community registries), various pediatric health disturbances (headache, other pains, somatic symptoms, and depression/anxiety) were assessed via both child (from the age of 9 y on) and parent report (n=3461).

Results: A relatively high parent-child agreement (sigmaM=0.61) was found regarding the variable headache frequency, whereas consensus regarding other pains was, for the most part, markedly lower. The lowest agreement (sigmaM=0.27) was found for depression/anxiety symptoms. A moderator analysis (with age, sex, and parental headache) between child and parent failed to reveal significant differences regarding the degree of agreement between the 2 data sources. Children reported more frequent and more severe symptoms in all health domains.

Conclusion: The examined potential moderator variables did not elucidate processes underlying the differences in child and parent agreement. There is no convincing evidence that the children's appraisal is less valid than their parents'. In summary, parents' reports cannot be viewed as a substitute for children's reports in pediatric pain and health assessment. Instead, each perspective represents a unique subjective reality and as such, both are of importance for research on pediatric pain and other health variables.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Depressive Disorder / complications
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Headache / complications
  • Headache / epidemiology*
  • Headache / psychology
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Pain / complications
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Pain / psychology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Parents
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sex Factors