Depression and functional disability in chronic pediatric pain.

Objective: The primary aim of this study was to describe pain characteristics, coping strategies, depression, and functional disability in children and adolescents with chronic pain and to examine potential factors that are associated with functional disability in a pediatric pain population. The secondary aim of this study was to compare functional disability in two chronic pain conditions: localized musculoskeletal pain and chronic daily headaches.

Participants: The participants in this study were 73 pediatric pain patients with a variety of chronic pain conditions. Subjects in the second part of the study were a subset of patients (N = 44) from the pain clinic sample with chronic localized musculoskeletal pain and a subset of patients (N = 38) from the headache center of the same hospital who had chronic daily headaches.

Design: Patients completed self-report measures of pain intensity, depression, coping strategies, coping efficacy, and functional disability.

Results: Results indicated that chronic pain had a substantial impact on the children’s lives and that depression was strongly associated with functional disability. Maladaptive coping was correlated with depression and disability; however, maladaptive coping was not independently associated with functional disability. A comparison between the two groups found significant differences in pain intensity and functional disability. The localized musculoskeletal pain group reported higher levels of disability and more difficulty coping than the chronic daily headache group.

Conclusion: The implications for treatment of chronic pain in children are discussed with an emphasis on greater attention to developmental issues and their relation to coping, emotional functioning, and disability in pediatric pain. Further research examining differences in coping and disability between different pediatric pain groups is also warranted.