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Depressive Symptoms Predict Persistence of Pain and
Disability in Children with Disease-related Pain
T. Palermo, A. Hoff, M. Schluchter, et al.
Posted: September 2005  
Journal of Pain, Vol. 6, March 2005

Pain secondary to chronic disease can be disabling for some children. The objective of this longitudinal study was to identify predictors of the persistence of pain and disability among children with disease-related pain. Specifically, we examined the effects of depressive symptoms on persistence of pain and functional disability over a one-year period among children with either sickle cell disease or juvenile idiopathic arthritis. We hypothesized that depressive symptoms would function as a general risk factor across pain and health conditions.

As hypothesized, depressive symptoms were found to be a generalized risk factor, predicting concurrent perceptions and persistence of pain and functional disability over one year among children with disease-related pain. Importantly, depressive symptoms were in the subclinical range for this cohort of children, indicating that even milder symptoms of negative mood are related to enduring problems with pain and disability. Screening for negative mood and depressive symptoms among children with disease-related pain may be useful for identifying children who may benefit from behavioral intervention to reduce emotional distress, improve the child’s ability to copy with pain, and enhance daily functioning.