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Children’s Beliefs about Pain: An Exploratory Analysis

1
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA
2
Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 2JD, UK
3
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC 27710, USA
4
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
5
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, NYU Langone Health, New York, NY 10016, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: Johanna M.C. Blom
Children 2021, 8(6), 452; https://doi.org/10.3390/children8060452
Received: 9 April 2021 / Revised: 21 May 2021 / Accepted: 25 May 2021 / Published: 27 May 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
Functional abdominal pain (FAP) is one of the most common childhood medical complaints, associated with significant distress and impairment. Little is known about how children understand their pain. Do they attribute it to personal weakness? Do they perceive pain as having global impact, affecting a variety of activities? How do they cope with pain? We explored the pain beliefs of 5- to 9-year-old children with FAP using a novel Teddy Bear Interview task in which children answered questions about a Teddy bear’s pain. Responses were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively. Results indicate that the majority of young children with FAP are optimistic about pain outcomes. Children generated many types of coping strategies for Teddy’s pain and adjusted their calibration of Teddy’s pain tolerance dependent on the activity being performed. Early warning signs also emerged: a subset of children were pessimistic about Teddy’s pain, and several children identified coping strategies that, while developmentally appropriate, could lead to excessive help seeking if not intervened upon (e.g., physician consultation and shot). The Teddy Bear Interview allows children to externalize their pain, making it a useful tool to access cognitive pain constructs in younger children. Thus, these findings highlight the importance of early intervention for childhood FAP. View Full-Text
Keywords: functional abdominal pain; pain; interoception; children; child attitudes; pain thresholds functional abdominal pain; pain; interoception; children; child attitudes; pain thresholds
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MDPI and ACS Style

Ives, L.T.; Stein, K.; Rivera-Cancel, A.M.; Nicholas, J.K.; Caldwell, K.; Datta, N.; Mauro, C.; Egger, H.; Puffer, E.; Zucker, N.L. Children’s Beliefs about Pain: An Exploratory Analysis. Children 2021, 8, 452. https://doi.org/10.3390/children8060452

AMA Style

Ives LT, Stein K, Rivera-Cancel AM, Nicholas JK, Caldwell K, Datta N, Mauro C, Egger H, Puffer E, Zucker NL. Children’s Beliefs about Pain: An Exploratory Analysis. Children. 2021; 8(6):452. https://doi.org/10.3390/children8060452

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ives, Lindsay T., Kate Stein, Alannah M. Rivera-Cancel, Julia K. Nicholas, Kristen Caldwell, Nandini Datta, Christian Mauro, Helen Egger, Eve Puffer, and Nancy L. Zucker. 2021. "Children’s Beliefs about Pain: An Exploratory Analysis" Children 8, no. 6: 452. https://doi.org/10.3390/children8060452

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