Emotional/behavioural, social correlates and one-year predictors of frequent pains among early adolescents: influences of pain characteristics.

Department of Neuroscience, Regional Centre for Child & Adolescent Mental Health, The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), NO-7489 Trondheim, Norway.
European Journal of Pain (Impact Factor: 3.22). 02/2007; 11(1):57-65. DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpain.2005.12.014
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In a one-year longitudinal study, emotional/behavioural correlates and predictors of four common pain complaints (headaches, stomach, back and limb pain), were examined in a representative school sample of 2360 adolescents aged 12- to 15-years. At first assessment, 18.3% reported being bothered by a frequent pain (at least once a week) and 40% of the pain sufferers had two or more pain locations, more commonly reported by girls. Subjects having any of the four frequent pains reported having fewer friends and were more often absent from school. Frequency and number of reported pains among adolescents were positively related to levels of internalising and externalising problems. These latter problems were consistently and significantly higher among adolescents with frequent back and limb pains, however, when coexistence of another frequent pain was controlled, differences were small. Number of pains at the one-year follow-up was significantly predicted by frequent back pain and headache, depressive symptoms scores, somatic complaints (other than pain), number of friends and reduced leisure time activities during the follow-up period. Frequent back pain and depressive symptoms also predicted multiple frequent pains (vs single frequent pain) at the follow-up as did recent parental divorce. It is concluded that various emotional and behavioural problems, and which are commonly regarded as being specifically related to pain type or location among adolescents, depend rather on frequency and coexistence of multiple frequent pains. Assessment of adolescents with frequent and multiple pains should, therefore, include broad screening of internalising as well as externalising problems as well as various aspects of impairment.

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