Pediatric chronic pain is a significant problem associated with substantial functional impairment. A variety of risk factors have been found to be associated with chronic pain in youth. The greatest amount of evidence appears to support that temperament, anxiety, depression, subjective experience of stress, passive coping strategies, sleep problems, other somatic-related problems, and parent and/or family factors are important variables. However, a great deal of this research focuses on a single risk factor or on multiple risk factors in isolation. Much of the literature utilizes older diagnostic criteria and would benefit from replication, larger sample sizes, and comparison across pain disorders. Problems also exist with disagreement across definitions, resulting in inconsistency or unclear use of terms. Furthermore, recent consideration has suggested that outcome measures should include functional disability in addition to pain. A second generation of research is needed to shed light on the complex interactions that likely play a role in the transition from acute to chronic pain. Building on recent calls for changes in research in this area, we propose the next steps for this research, which involve consideration of both biopsychosocial and developmental contexts.
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