Children's Beliefs about Pain: An Exploratory Analysis.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

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.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ives, LT; Stein, K; Rivera-Cancel, AM; Nicholas, JK; Caldwell, K; Datta, N; Mauro, C; Egger, H; Puffer, E; Zucker, NL

Published Date

  • May 27, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 8 / 6

PubMed ID

  • 34071866

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8228747

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2227-9067

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.3390/children8060452


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Switzerland