Psychosocial Functioning of Parents of Youth Receiving Intensive Interdisciplinary Pain Treatment

Author: Jennifer Christofferson1,2, Jennifer A Scheurich3,4,5, William R Black1,6, Cara M Hoffart1,4,5, Dustin P Wallace1,4,5
1 The Center for Children's Healthy Lifestyles & Nutrition, Children's Mercy Kansas City, USA.
2 Clinical Child Psychology Doctoral Program, University of Kansas, USA.
3 Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic, USA.
4 Pain Management Clinic, Department of Pediatrics, Children's Mercy Kansas City, USA.
5 Department of Pediatrics, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, USA.
6 Department of Pediatrics, University of Kansas School of Medicine, USA.
Conference/Journal: J Pediatr Psychol
Date published: 2023 Dec 13
Other: Pages: jsad092 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsad092. , Word Count: 262

Parents of youth with chronic pain report psychosocial difficulties, yet treatment often focuses on improving their child's functioning and pain. This study evaluated changes in parents' social and emotional functioning and explored predictors of change, as they completed a parent-focused intervention while their child was enrolled in an intensive interdisciplinary pain treatment (IIPT) program.

Parents (n = 69) completed questionnaires at baseline and weekly (average duration of 4 weeks) during their child's participation in IIPT. Parents engaged in 3 groups per week providing education, therapeutic art, and psychotherapy (3 hr/week total).

At baseline, 38% of parents reported scores in the clinically elevated range for at least 1 psychosocial variable. Linear mixed modeling for the full sample indicated reduced parent anxiety (t = -2.72, p <.01) and depression (t = -3.59, p <.001), but not increased emotional support (t = 1.86, p >. 05) or reduced social isolation (t = -1.20, p >.05). For parents with at least moderately elevated psychosocial concerns, statistically significant improvements were observed for all 4 outcomes (all p's<.01). Psychological flexibility, cognitive reappraisal, and emotional suppression were found to be related to changes in parent outcomes (anxiety, depression, isolation, and support).

Findings support the benefit of parent-focused interventions in addition to child-focused interventions. Many parents of youth participating in IIPT had elevated scores for at least 1 psychosocial concern at baseline. Brief, parent-focused intervention including psychoeducation, therapeutic art, and psychotherapy targeting mindfulness, acceptance, and values had a significant impact on these parents, particularly those with greater struggles at baseline.

Keywords: chronic pain; intensive interdisciplinary pain treatment (IIPT); parent-based interventions; parental mental health; psychosocial functioning.

PMID: 38092685 DOI: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsad092