Numerous studies have found evidence for the role of catastrophizing about pain in adjustment to pain in both adults and children. However, the social context influencing pain and pain behaviour has been largely ignored. Especially in understanding the complexities of childhood pain, family processes may be of major importance. In line with the crucial role of pain catastrophizing in explaining adjustment and disability in adults and children, this study investigates the role of parental catastrophic thinking about their child’s pain in explaining child disability and parental distress. To study parental catastrophizing, a parent version of the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS-P) was developed. An oblique three-factor structure emerged to best fit the data in both a sample of parents of schoolchildren (N = 205) and in a sample of parents of children with chronic pain (N = 107). Moreover, this three-factor structure was found to be invariant across both parent samples. Further, in the clinical sample, parents’ catastrophic thinking about their child’s pain had a significant contribution in explaining (a) childhood illness-related parenting stress, parental depression and anxiety, and (b) the child’s disability and school attendance, beyond the child’s pain intensity.
aDepartment of Experimental-Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University, Belgium
bResearch Institute for Psychology and Health, The Netherlands
cPain Management Unit, University of Bath, UK
*Corresponding author. Tel.: +32 (0)9 264 62 62; fax: +32 (0)9 264 64 89.
Received October 6, 2005; received in revised form January 6, 2006; accepted February 23, 2006.
Liesbet Goubert is Postdoctoral Fellow of the Fund for Scientific Research – Flanders (Belgium) (F.W.O.). Tine Vervoort is Research Assistant of the Fund for Scientific Research – Flanders (Belgium) (F.W.O.).