To evaluate differences in how mothers and fathers perceive and respond to their adolescents' chronic pain before and after The Comfort Ability Program (CAP), a 1-day cognitive-behavioral intervention, and to compare outcomes between mother-father dyads and mothers who attended the intervention alone.
Parents completed the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS) and Helping for Health Inventory (HHI) at baseline (preintervention) and at 1 week, 1 month, and 3 months after intervention. Confirmatory factor analyses evaluated construct validity and invariances of the scales. Paired t tests compared scores between mothers and fathers. Unpaired t tests compared mother-father dyads (n = 33) and mothers who attended the intervention alone (n = 73).
PCS baseline showed significant construct instability between maternal and paternal interpretations. However, 1 week after intervention, construct stability improved between parents. On the PCS and HHI, in which lower scores represent more adaptive parenting behaviors, fathers scored significantly lower than mothers at baseline (PCS: 22.6 [7.7] vs 28.0 [11.4], p value = 0.033; HHI: 16.0 [8.1] vs 20.6 [9.6], p value = 0.029). At 3 months after intervention, PCS scores for both mothers and fathers significantly decreased from baseline (mothers: p value = 0.009; fathers: p value = 0.052) and converged (mothers: 18.6 [11.2] vs fathers: 18.3 [13.2]; p value = 0.786). Mother and father HHI scores were significantly lower at 3 months than baseline (mothers: 13.2 [9.5], p value = 0.005; fathers: 15.0 [12.7], p value = 0.017), although improvement of construct stability between parents was less evident.
Findings suggest that mothers and fathers may differentially perceive and respond to their adolescents' pain and that CAP parent-training intervention may help align their thinking. The results further demonstrate that both parents make adaptive changes after intervention, reinforcing the value of including both parents in pediatric treatment for chronic pain.