Pain beliefs have been hypothesized to play an important role in pediatric pain. However, research examining the associations between pain-related beliefs and measures of function in youths with disabilities is limited.
In total, 84 youths (mean age, 14.26 y; SD, 3.27) with physical disabilities who indicated they also had bothersome pain were interviewed and asked to rate their average pain intensity in the past week and to complete measures of pain-related beliefs and health-related quality of life.
A number of pain beliefs were associated with different physical and psychosocial function domains, although different beliefs appeared to play different roles, depending on the function domain examined. Across all of the health-related quality-of-life domains studied, a belief that pain is influenced by one’s emotions was associated with lower levels of function. No differences were found in pain beliefs related to age. In addition, a small difference in pain beliefs was found for sex; specifically, girls were more likely than boys to endorse the belief that pain is influenced by emotions.
The findings provide new information regarding the role that pain beliefs have in predicting function and have important clinical implications regarding how youth with physical disabilities and pain might be most effectively treated.