Pain May Be Associated With Physical, Psychosocial Impairment in Youth With Burn Injuries

Investigators sought to determine whether patient-reported experience of pain predicted physical and psychosocial outcomes.

According to study results published in the Journal of Pain, pain intensity and interference from burn injuries in children are significantly associated with physical and psychosocial impairment.

To evaluate the levels of pain-related, physical, and psychosocial functioning in youths with burn injuries, researchers conducted a cross-sectional study of 65 individuals who experienced a burn injury at age 6 to 16 (mean, 11.97±3.11) years. They asked participants to complete several questionnaires related to their pain intensity and interference, as well as measures of anxiety, depressive symptoms, peer relationships, and others.

Investigators assessed 45 patients at 6 months post-injury (Time 1) and 20 additional patients at 12 months (Time 2). These groups did not significantly vary in demographic or injury variables. Mean pain intensity was 1.87±2.49 in the Time 1 group and 2.1±2.73 in the Time 2 group, and a similar percentage of participants reported clinically significant pain interference (26.5% vs 30.5%, respectively).

According to correlation analyses, pain interference was significantly associated with pain intensity (P <.001) and physical functioning-mobility (P =.14). Pain intensity was also significantly related to physical functioning-mobility (P =.005).

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In Time 2, pain interference was significantly associated with pain intensity (P <.001), depression (P =.002), anxiety (P =.007), peer relationships (P =.007), and physical functioning-mobility (P =.011). Pain intensity was also linked to depression (P =.002), peer relationships (P =.049), and physical functioning-mobility (P <.001).

Study limitations include difficulty generalizing findings because of the small and heterogeneous sample.

“Given these findings,” the authors said, “it may be that cognitive aspects of the pain experience are an important future target for interventions with this population. Future research should continue to examine these relationships in order to confirm these findings and improve the overall treatment and long-term outcomes in this vulnerable population.”

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Nelson S, Uhl K, et al. Pain is associated with increased physical and psychosocial impairment in youth with a history of burn injuries [published online August 7, 2019]. J Pain. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2019.08.002