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Personal and Contextual Factors Affecting the Functional Ability of Children and Adolescents with Chronic Pain: A Systematic Review

Journal title
Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics : JDBP
Publication year
Sinclair, C. M.; Meredith, P.; Strong, J.; Feeney, R.

OBJECTIVE: Chronic pain can significantly impair functioning of children and adolescents; however, evidence suggests that current psychological approaches have limited effect on functioning post treatment. The objective of this review is to present the current evidence for the personal and contextual factors that affect functioning and disability of children and adolescents with chronic pain, to support the evolution of new treatments. METHOD: Key word searches were conducted in PsycINFO, MEDLINE via Ovid, CINAHL, and PubMed from 1995 to October 2014. Studies were included if they (1) were written in English, (2) included children or adolescents with chronic pain (>3 mo), (3) had at least 1 personal attribute or 1 contextual factor, (4) had 1 measure of functional ability, and (5) had reported correlations between personal or contextual factors and functional measure. RESULTS: Thirty-three studies were identified which met all inclusion criteria. Several personal factors (depression, anxiety, pain intensity, and catastrophizing) and contextual/environmental factors (parenting characteristics) were consistently associated with higher levels of disability, whereas evidence for other factors was less consistent. Complex interactions between personal and contextual factors were reported. Child physical/cognitive capacities, teacher/peer behaviors, and broader cultural and environmental social systems, received little attention. CONCLUSION: Several parent and child factors were consistently linked with functional disability, whereas better family functioning was associated with functional ability. Applying an ecological framework, assisted identification of areas for further research, and provides direction for treatments that may be more effective in optimizing long-term functional outcomes, extending current psychological approaches.

Research abstracts