Theoretical models and evidence increasingly identify chronic pain as a family issue. To date, much of this work has focused on risk conferred by parental chronic pain status despite evidence suggesting parent mental illness and non-pain-related chronic illness may also contribute to poorer chronic pain outcomes in children. This study is the first to test interpersonal fear avoidance processes as possible mechanisms through which parent health (mental and physical) influences pediatric chronic pain functioning. We used structural equation models (SEM) to test such an integrative model using cross-sectional data from a large clinical registry of 448 dyads of patients 8-18 years old (M=14.57 years; SD=2.38; 327 females) with mixed chronic pain and their parents (403 mothers). As expected, poorer parent global health was indirectly related to greater child pain interference via higher parent pain catastrophizing, and then via greater parent protective behaviors, and child pain catastrophizing. The model demonstrated excellent fit to the data (χ = 5.04, ns; χ/df = 1.01; CFI = 1.00, RMSEA = .004 [90% confidence interval (CI) = .000-.066]). Exploratory multiple-group comparison SEM revealed moderation of specific model paths based on child age group (8- to 12-year-olds versus 13- to 18-year-olds) and parent pain status (present versus absent). This study integrates family models of pain with the interpersonal fear avoidance model to extend our mechanistic understanding of parental physical and mental health contributors to pediatric chronic pain.
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