Children With Chronic Pain: Response Trajectories After Intensive Pain Rehabilitation Treatment

J Pain. 2018 Feb;19(2):207-218. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2017.10.005. Epub 2017 Dec 6.


Intensive pain rehabilitation programs for children with chronic pain are effective for many patients. However, characteristics associated with treatment response have not been well documented. In this article we report trajectories of pain and functional impairment in patients with chronic pain up to 1 year after intensive pain rehabilitation and examine baseline factors associated with treatment response. Patients (n = 253) with chronic pain and functional disability were assessed at 5 time points (admission, discharge, 1-month, 4-month, and 12-month follow-ups). Individual trajectories were empirically grouped using SAS PROC TRAJ. For functional disability, 2 groups emerged: treatment responders (88%) and nonresponders (12%). Using a binomial logistic regression model to predict disability trajectory group, no baseline variables were significant predictors for the disability trajectory group. For pain, 3 groups emerged: early treatment responders (35%), late treatment responders (38%), and nonresponders (27%). Using multinomial regression analyses to predict pain trajectory group, older age, higher pain scores, fewer social difficulties, higher anxiety levels, and lower readiness to change were characteristics that distinguished nonresponders from responders; no significant predictors distinguished the late responders from the early responders. These results provide key information on the baseline factors that influence intensive pain rehabilitation outcomes, including risk factors that predict treatment nonresponse. Our findings have implications for developing more targeted treatment interventions.

Perspective: Deriving groups of individuals with differing treatment response trajectories stimulates new thinking regarding potential mechanisms that may be driving these outcomes.

Keywords: Chronic pain; child and adolescent; intensive rehabilitation; treatment response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Behavior Therapy / methods
  • Catastrophization / etiology
  • Catastrophization / psychology
  • Catastrophization / rehabilitation
  • Child
  • Chronic Pain / psychology*
  • Chronic Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Disabled Persons
  • Disease Management*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mood Disorders / etiology
  • Mood Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Occupational Therapy / methods
  • Pain Measurement
  • Psychotherapy / methods
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome*