Use of Smartphones to Prospectively Evaluate Predictors and Outcomes of Caregiver Responses to Pain in Youth with Chronic Disease

Pain. 2017 Apr;158(4):629-636. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000804. Epub 2016 Dec 15.


This study examined outcomes and predictors of different types of responses to child pain used by caregivers of youth with chronic disease. Sixty-six children and adolescents (ages 7-18) with juvenile idiopathic arthritis answered questions about pain, pain interference in activities, and mood on a smartphone three times per day for one month, while a caregiver contemporaneously answered questions about their own mood and use of protecting, monitoring, minimizing, or distracting responses to their child's pain. Multilevel models were used to evaluate (a) how a child's pain and pain interference changes after a caregiver uses different types of pain responses; (b) the extent to which caregiver responses to pain vary across days; and (c) whether variability in caregiver responses to pain is predicted by changes in child pain characteristics, child mood, and/or caregiver mood. Results showed that children's pain intensity and pain interference increased following moments when caregivers used more protective responses, whereas children's pain interference decreased following times when caregivers responded with minimizing responses. Caregiver pain responses varied considerably across days, with caregivers responding with more protecting and monitoring responses and fewer minimizing responses at moments when their child reported high levels of pain unpleasantness and pain interference. Caregivers also were found to respond with fewer protective responses at moments when they themselves were in a more positive mood. Implications for clinical recommendations and future studies are discussed.