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Associations Between Physical Activity and Chronic Pain Severity in Youth With Chronic Abdominal Pain

Kichline, Tiffany MS*; Cushing, Christopher C. PhD*,†; Ortega, Adrian BS*; Friesen, Craig MD; Schurman, Jennifer V. PhD

The Clinical Journal of Pain: July 2019 - Volume 35 - Issue 7 - p 618–624
doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000716
Original Articles

Objectives: The present study aimed to: (1) better understand physical activity levels in youth with chronic abdominal pain and (2) investigate the relationship between day-level physical activity related to next day pain intensity to identify any intraindividual heterogeneity.

Methods: Seventy-one youth (M=13.34 y, SD=2.67 y) with chronic abdominal pain provided reports of pain severity and continuous objective reports of sedentary behavior, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and total sleep time using accelerometers over 14 days.

Results: Findings revealed that youth with chronic abdominal pain do not meet recommended levels of MVPA per day (M=34.64 min, SD=33.31 min). Further, results indicated a random effect of the previous day’s MVPA predicting pain severity. There was a small significant negative effect of within-person total sleep time as a predictor of pain severity.

Discussion: The current study highlights the importance of separating between-person and within-person differences when examining the relationship between physical activity and pain severity. Future studies should explore moderating factors that may help to explain random effects to better understand the types of individuals with positive or negative relationships between physical activity and pain severity.

*Clinical Child Psychology Program, University of Kansas

Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies, Lawrence, KS

Children’s Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, MO

This research was supported by a grant from the Katherine B. Richardson Foundation, Kansas City, MO. The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Christopher C. Cushing, PhD, Clinical Child Psychology Program, 2011 Dole Human Development Center, University of Kansas, 1000 Sunnyside Avenue, Lawrence, KS 66045 (e-mail:

Received October 8, 2018

Received in revised form March 14, 2019

Accepted March 29, 2019

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