Managing pain -- a family affair

April 11, 2011, Springer

Could adult children's strategies for coping with pain come from watching their parents react to and deal with pain? According to Suzyen Kraljevic, from the University Hospital Split in Croatia, and colleagues, a family may have a specific cognitive style of coping with pain. Their work, which looks at the relationship between how parents and their children respond to pain, is published online in Springer's International Journal of Behavioral Medicine.

It is already recognized that parents' pain behavior is associated with the way their children experience and express pain. Many of our responses are learned by observing and imitating the behavior of others, and this is true for how we express pain and find ways of coping with pain. In this context, family members are more likely to serve as models for pain-related responses than strangers.

Kraljevic and colleagues' work examines the relationship between pain catastrophizing specifically - or the exaggerated negative mental state in response to actual or anticipated pain experience - in parents and their first born child. Using a questionnaire, the researchers assessed the extent to which 285 participants were distressed in response to pain - 100 patients with chronic pain from the Pain Clinic of the University Hospital Split, 85 spouses and 100 adult children. In addition, they measured the level of actual pain experienced by the patients.

"We found that parents' pain catastrophizing scores predicted their adult children's results, irrespective of the level of actual pain experienced by the adult patients. Since during childhood parents serve as a model that children imitate, it is possible that children use social and communicative tools that they have observed in their parents, to manage their own distress in a similar context. Families may develop a specific cognitive style of dealing with pain," conclude Kraljevic and colleagues.

Explore further: Study: Patients often don't report pain

More information: Kraljevic S et al (2011). Parents' pain catastrophizing is related to pain catastrophizing of their adult children. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine.
DOI 10.1007/s12529-011-9151-z

Related Stories

Study: Patients often don't report pain

February 13, 2006
A Rochester, Minn., study finds more than 20 percent of people with chronic pain don't seek medical help, suggesting many have unmet pain care needs.

Study: Fetuses can't feel pain

April 14, 2006
A senior psychologist at Britain's University of Birmingham says he has found good evidence that fetuses cannot feel pain.

Drug-free treatments offer hope for older people in pain

September 10, 2007
Mind-body therapies, which focus on the interactions between the mind, body and behavior, and the ways in which emotional, mental, social and behavioral factors can affect health, may be of particular benefit to elderly chronic ...

Study: Prematurely born babies feel pain

April 6, 2006
Prematurely born babies do, indeed, feel pain, say researchers at University College London.

Some parents weigh 'hastening death' for children in extreme pain with terminal cancer

March 1, 2010
A survey of parents who had a child die of cancer found that one in eight considered hastening their child's death, a deliberation influenced by the amount of pain the child experienced during the last month of life, report ...

Study Pinpoints Links of Depression with Chronic Pain

June 17, 2009
It is well known that chronic pain and clinical depression go together, but a study in The Journal of Pain, published by the American Pain Society, shows that the connection between pain and depression is strongest in middle-age ...

Recommended for you

Study examines disruption of circadian rhythm as risk factor for diseases

December 11, 2018
USC scientists report that a novel time-keeping mechanism within liver cells that helps sustain key organ tasks can contribute to diseases when its natural rhythm is disrupted.

New light-based technology reveals how cells communicate in human disease

December 11, 2018
Scientists at the University of York have developed a new technique that uses light to understand how cells communicate in human disease.

Researchers explore new way of killing malaria in the liver

December 8, 2018
In the ongoing hunt for more effective weapons against malaria, international researchers said Thursday they are exploring a pathway that has until now been little studied—killing parasites in the liver, before the illness ...

Study may offer doctors a more effective way to treat neuroblastoma

December 7, 2018
A very large team of researchers, mostly from multiple institutions across Germany, has found what might be a better way to treat patients with neuroblastoma, a type of cancer. In their paper published in the journal Science, ...

Progress made in transplanting pig hearts into baboons

December 6, 2018
A large team of researchers from several institutions in Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.S. has transplanted pig hearts into baboons and kept them alive for an extended period of time. In their paper published in the ...

'Chemo brain' caused by malfunction in three types of brain cells, study finds

December 6, 2018
More than half of cancer survivors suffer from cognitive impairment from chemotherapy that lingers for months or years after the cancer is gone. In a new study explaining the cellular mechanisms behind this condition, scientists ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.