Emotional distress and behavioral problems in children of chronic pain patients

Darlene S Imeri, Pace University

Abstract

This study compared the psychosocial adjustment (level of depression, of anxiety, of self-esteem, and of behavioral problems) of 40 children (ages 8-17 years) of chronic pain patients with that of children of the norming sample of the following self-report and parent report measures: Children's Depression Inventory, Revised Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale, Self-Esteem Index, and the Children's Behavior Checklist. These data were also compared with each of the following variables: Level of the pain patients' distress and disability, duration of the pain patients' pain, age of pain patients' children, and with the gender of pain patient and child (same gender versus opposite gender).^ The data were analyzed using two different units of analysis: (a) the 24 first born children from each family, and (b) all 40 children from the 24 families. The results of the analyses on both units found that children of pain patients were unexpectedly significantly (p $<$.05) less depressed and less anxious and had significantly (p $<$.05) higher self-esteem than the norming sample of the measures used. Patterns of significance, especially those related to social desirability, suggested that children of pain patients may be responding in socially desirable ways rather than being significantly emotionally healthier than the norming sample on the measures utilized. When examining the results from both the 24 first born children and all 40 children, a significant finding with the RCMAS was that there was a positive relationship between the social desirability and the level of the pain patients' emotional distress (p $<$.05). Another significant finding from the results of the 24 first born children was that there was a positive relationship between social desirability and the age of the children of pain patients. The latter is the opposite of developmental expectations. Perhaps the children responded in socially desirable ways, and increasingly so the older they were, because they became "parentified" by having to precociously assume adult responsibilities within their families in which at least one parent was emotionally distressed.^ Further research is needed to explore why children of chronic pain patients respond in socially desirable ways, and to explore the dynamics of parentification in families with a member in chronic pain. ^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Mental Health|Social Work|Psychology, Clinical|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Recommended Citation

Darlene S Imeri, "Emotional distress and behavioral problems in children of chronic pain patients" (January 1, 1997). ETD Collection for Pace University. Paper AAI9728848.
http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/dissertations/AAI9728848

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