Mothers' and fathers' responses to their child's pain moderate the relationship between the child's pain catastrophizing and disability

Pain. 2011 Apr;152(4):786-793. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2010.12.010. Epub 2011 Jan 26.


Preliminary evidence suggests that pain catastrophizing in children may be important in understanding how parents respond to their child's pain. However, no study has investigated whether parental responses, in turn, moderate the impact of child's catastrophizing upon pain outcomes. The present study was designed to address this, and investigated the association of the child's catastrophizing with different types of parental responses (ie, solicitousness, discouragement and coping promoting responses) and the extent to which parental responses moderate the association between the child's catastrophizing and disability. Participants were 386 school children and their parents. Analyses revealed significant associations between the child's pain catastrophizing and parental responses, but with mothers and fathers evidencing different patterns; ie, higher levels of the child's catastrophizing were significantly associated with lower levels of solicitousness by fathers, and with higher levels of discouragement by mothers. Moderation analyses indicated that father's solicitiousness moderated the association between catastrophizing and disability; the positive association between catastrophizing and the child's disability was further strengthened when fathers reported low levels of solicitousness, but became less pronounced when fathers reported high levels of solicitousness. Findings also revealed a moderating impact of mothers' and fathers' promotion of their child's well behaviour/coping. Specifically, the detrimental impact of child catastrophizing upon disability was less pronounced when parents reported high promotion of their child's well behaviours/coping. The findings of the present study suggest the importance of assessing and targeting parental responses to their child's pain to alter the adverse impact of the child's pain catastrophizing on pain outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Catastrophization / etiology*
  • Child
  • Fathers / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers / psychology
  • Pain / complications*
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Pain Management
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Factors