Improving Distress and Behaviors for Parents of Adolescents with Chronic Pain Enrolled in an Intensive Interdisciplinary Pain Program

Karen E. Weiss, Ashley N. Junghans-Rutelonis, Rachel V. Aaron, Cynthia Harbeck-Weber, Emily McTate, Connie Luedtke, Barbara K. Bruce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives:Intensive interdisciplinary treatment is emerging as an effective treatment of chronic pain in youth. These programs often include a parental component with the belief that targeting parental distress and responses to a child's pain will improve outcomes. However, few studies have evaluated the impact of a parental intervention in the interdisciplinary treatment of pediatric chronic pain. The present study consists of a nonrandomized pre-post design to evaluate change in psychological and behavioral functioning of parents who participated in intensive parent programming that utilized cognitive-behavioral therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy, delivered within the context of an interdisciplinary intensive 3-week pain treatment program for youth with chronic pain.Materials and Methods:Two hundred twelve parents and their children participated in the study, with 116 participants completing 3-month follow-up measures. Parents completed measures of depressive symptoms, pain catastrophizing, protective responses, and psychological flexibility at admission, discharge, and 3 months after the program. Child functional disability was assessed at the same time points. We examined change in parent factors over time, while controlling for change in child distress.Results:Parents reported significant improvements in all areas of functioning from admission to discharge and improvements were maintained at 3-month follow-up.Discussion:This study provides evidence suggesting parent interventions can be effective in reducing parent distress and behaviors known to be associated with child outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)772-779
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Journal of Pain
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • chronic pain
  • interdisciplinary
  • parent
  • pediatric
  • rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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