Parental responses to children with chronic pain have been shown to influence the extent of the child's functional disability, but these associations have not been well studied in relation to children's pain-related school functioning. The current study tests the hypothesis that parental pain catastrophizing and parental protective responses to child pain influence the extent of school impairment in children with chronic pain. A mediational model was tested to determine whether parental protective behaviors serve a mediating role between parental pain catastrophizing and child school impairment. Study participants were a clinical sample of 350 children ages 8-17 years with chronic pain and their parents. Measures of pain characteristics, demographic characteristics, child depressive symptoms, school attendance rates, overall school functioning, parental pain catastrophizing, and parental protective responses to pain were collected. Results show that, controlling for the known influences of pain intensity and child depressive symptoms, parental pain catastrophizing and parental protective responses to child pain each independently predict child school attendance rates and reports of overall school impairment. Parental protectiveness was found to mediate the association between parental cognitions (i.e., parent pain catastrophizing) and child school functioning outcomes. These findings underscore the importance of intervening with parents to foster parental responses to child pain that help children engage and succeed in the school environment despite pain.
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