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Improving Distress and Behaviors for Parents of Adolescents With Chronic Pain Enrolled in an Intensive Interdisciplinary Pain Program

Weiss, Karen E. PhD*; Junghans-Rutelonis, Ashley N. PhD; Aaron, Rachel V. PhD; Harbeck-Weber, Cynthia PhD§; McTate, Emily PhD∥,¶; Luedtke, Connie MA, RN-BC§; Bruce, Barbara K. PhD#

doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000737
Original Articles

Objectives: Intensive interdisciplinary treatment is emerging as an effective treatment of chronic pain in youth. These programs often include a parental component with the belief that targeting parental distress and responses to a child’s pain will improve outcomes. However, few studies have evaluated the impact of a parental intervention in the interdisciplinary treatment of pediatric chronic pain. The present study consists of a nonrandomized pre-post design to evaluate change in psychological and behavioral functioning of parents who participated in intensive parent programming that utilized cognitive-behavioral therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy, delivered within the context of an interdisciplinary intensive 3-week pain treatment program for youth with chronic pain.

Materials and Methods: Two hundred twelve parents and their children participated in the study, with 116 participants completing 3-month follow-up measures. Parents completed measures of depressive symptoms, pain catastrophizing, protective responses, and psychological flexibility at admission, discharge, and 3 months after the program. Child functional disability was assessed at the same time points. We examined change in parent factors over time, while controlling for change in child distress.

Results: Parents reported significant improvements in all areas of functioning from admission to discharge and improvements were maintained at 3-month follow-up.

Discussion: This study provides evidence suggesting parent interventions can be effective in reducing parent distress and behaviors known to be associated with child outcomes.

*Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine, University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital

Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

§Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Medical Center

Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH

#Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, FL

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Karen E. Weiss, PhD, 4800 Sand Point Way NE, Mail MB.11.500.3, P.O. Box 5371, Seattle, WA 98105 (e-mail:

Received October 30, 2018

Received in revised form May 29, 2019

Accepted May 29, 2019

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