Perceived injustice (PI), which is one’s appraisal of justice or fairness regarding the pain experience, is an emerging area of interest in pediatric pain research. No previous studies have investigated PI in youth with acute pain. To fill this gap, this study examined (1) associations among PI, pain-related function, and psychological function in treatment-seeking youth with acute musculoskeletal (MSK) pain, and (2) the impact of parent-child PI discordance on children’s pain and psychosocial function.
Materials and Methods:
Participants were youth (aged 11 to 17, 55% male) with acute pain (onset <1 mo) recruited from emergency departments or outpatient clinics and participating parents (102 parent-child dyads). Dyads completed study questionnaires within 1 month of the child’s pain onset.
Youth-reported PI was significantly correlated with poorer physical and psychosocial quality of life, higher pain catastrophizing, higher fear of pain, increased pain-related disability, and greater depression and anxiety. Furthermore, PI was significantly associated with the physical quality of life, psychosocial quality of life, and pain-related disability. Moreover, discordance in youth and parent ratings of PI was associated with children’s psychological and pain-related function. Specifically, compared with Concordant dyads, youth in the Discordant dyads (youth high PI/parent low PI) reported significantly poorer physical quality of life, psychosocial quality of life, higher pain-related disability, depression, anxiety, and pain catastrophizing.
These findings reveal that PI in youth with acute MSK pain is associated with quality of life and pain-related disability. Furthermore, results highlight the importance of discordance between youth and parent reports of PI on pain-related functioning.