Objectives: Pain catastrophizing is an important predictor of pain-related outcomes. Caregiver and child levels of catastrophizing about child chronic pain are associated cross-sectionally, yet predictive associations testing interpersonal influences within caregiver-child dyads are lacking. The present study tested caregiver and child influences on partner catastrophizing about child pain over a period of 1 month following initiation of interdisciplinary pain treatment and examined whether the change in pain catastrophizing was associated with child pain interference.
Materials and Methods: A total of 113 caregiver-child dyads (Mage=14.41) completed measures at the time of initiating care at a pediatric tertiary outpatient pain management clinic (baseline) and ∼1 month later. Caregivers and children independently reported on catastrophizing about child pain and child pain interference at baseline and 1-month follow-up.
Results: Caregiver and child pain catastrophizing decreased over 1 month following initial interdisciplinary pain evaluation, with average scores remaining in the moderate to high range. Change in caregiver, but not child, catastrophizing about child pain was predicted by partner baseline pain catastrophizing. Decreases in catastrophizing about child pain were associated with within-person improvement in ratings of child pain interference.
Discussion: In the short period following initial pain evaluation, caregivers and children evidenced reductions in pain catastrophizing, which were associated with increased child function. Findings highlight the important role of child cognitive-affective responses to pain in influencing caregiver catastrophizing about child pain. Understanding the individual contributions children and caregivers make to interpersonal pain processes will inform future family-level clinical interventions.