Psychologic perspectives on pediatric pain

J Pediatr. 1993 May;122(5 Pt 2):S2-8. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(11)80002-8.


Pain has always been a salient feature for children because it occurs frequently in their everyday lives. We are only beginning to understand childhood pain. Yet, it is this understanding that influences our assessment and treatment of their pain. As with adults, pain in children is a complex matrix of biologic, psychologic, and sociologic phenomena. This article reviews what we know today about childhood pain and focuses on the psychologic perspectives that affect that pain experience. It outlines the psychologic elements that include: cognition, coping strategies, ability to communicate pain, fear, temperament, and personality as well as the sociologic factors, such as the family, culture, and economics, that influence children's perceptions and reactions to pain. The article concludes with a review of psychologic treatments of pain and an exploration of the effects of the psychology of adults, including professional anxiety and beliefs about pain and medication, on how pain is experienced by children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Pain Management
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Psychology, Child