Objective: Chronic pain is central to juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and is predictive of impaired functioning. Whereas most work has focused on identifying psychosocial risk factors for maladaptive outcomes, we explored the idea that child and parental psychological flexibility (PF) represent resilience factors for adaptive functioning of the child. We also explored differences between general vs pain-specific PF in contributing to child outcomes.
Methods: Children with JIA (age eight to 18 years) and (one of) their parents were recruited at the Department of Pediatric Rheumatology at the Ghent University Hospital in Belgium. They completed questionnaires assessing child and parent general and pain-specific PF and child psychosocial and emotional functioning and disability.
Results: The final sample consisted of 59 children and 48 parents. Multiple regression analyses revealed that child PF contributed to better psychosocial functioning and less negative affect. Child pain acceptance contributed to better psychosocial functioning, lower levels of disability, and lower negative affect, and also buffered the negative influence of pain intensity on disability. Bootstrap mediation analyses demonstrated that parental (general) PF indirectly contributed to child psychosocial functioning and affect via the child's (general) PF. Parent pain-specific PF was indirectly linked to child psychosocial functioning, disability, and negative affect via child pain acceptance.
Conclusions: Our findings indicate that child and parental PF are resilience factors and that pain acceptance buffers the negative impact of pain intensity. Implications for psychosocial interventions that target (pain-specific) PF in children and parents are discussed.
Keywords: Children; Chronic Pain; Functioning; Pain Acceptance; Parents; Psychological Flexibility.
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