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Kids May Mimic How Parents Handle Pain

THURSDAY April 14, 2011 -- Family behavior can influence how children cope with pain, a new study contends.

Researchers in Croatia assessed what they refer to as pain catastrophizing, or an exaggerated negative mental state in response to actual or anticipated pain. Their study involved 100 people with chronic pain, 85 of their spouses and 100 of their first-born adult children.

"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," wrote Suzyen Kraljevic, of Split University Hospital, and colleagues.

"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," the researchers concluded. "Families may develop a specific cognitive style of dealing with pain."

The study was published online in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine.

More information

The American Pain Foundation has more about pain.

Posted: April 2011


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