Injustice perceptions about pain: parent-child discordance is associated with worse functional outcomes

Pain. 2018 Jun;159(6):1083-1089. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001192.


Pain is experienced within and influenced by social environments. For children with chronic pain, the child-parent relationship and parental beliefs about pain are particularly important and may influence pain outcomes. Pain-related injustice perceptions have recently been identified as an important cognitive-emotional factor for children with pain. The current study aimed to better understand the pain-related injustice perceptions of children with chronic pain and their parents. The sample consisted of 253 pediatric chronic pain patients (mean age = 14.1 years, 74% female) presenting to a tertiary pain clinic. Patients completed measures of pain intensity, pain-related injustice perceptions, stress, functional disability, and quality of life. Parents completed a measure of pain-related injustice perceptions about their child's pain. Child-parent dyads were categorized into 1 of 4 categories based on the degree of concordance or discordance between their scores on the injustice measures. One-way analysis of variances examined differences in pain intensity, stress, functional disability, and quality of life across the 4 dyad categories. Our findings indicated that both the degree (concordant vs discordant) and direction (discordant low child-high parent vs discordant high child-low parent) of similarity between child and parent injustice perceptions were associated with child-reported pain intensity, stress, functional disability, and quality of life. The poorest outcomes were reported when children considered their pain as highly unjust, but their parents did not. These findings highlight the important role of parents in the context of pain-related injustice perceptions in pediatric chronic pain.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Catastrophization*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Pain / physiopathology*
  • Chronic Pain / psychology*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Perception / physiology*
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires