Peer Victimization May Predict Mood, Pain in Adolescents With Chronic Pain

bullying, adolescent, depression, mental health
Peer victimization may negatively affect mood and pain and may limit activity in youths with chronic pain.

Peer victimization, or intentional aggression perpetuated by peers, may negatively affect mood and pain and may limit activity in youths with chronic pain, according to a study published in the Journal of Pain.

A total of 74 adolescents (age range, 14-18 years) with chronic pain (ie, lasting >3 months) were enrolled from 2 pediatric pain management clinics in Oregon and Washington state. Age-matched control adolescents without chronic pain were also recruited from the community (n=82). Peer victimization was assessed using a 12-item checklist based on the Revised Peer Experiences Questionnaire, the Social Network Peer Experiences Questionnaire, and the Cyber Experiences Questionnaire. Mood was assessed using an 11-point numeric rating scale, and scores were correlated with rates of reported peer victimization. Additional variables assessed included sleep quality, pain intensity, and activity limitations.

A total of 105 (67%) adolescents reported peer victimization for ≥1 day during the monitoring period. In participants with chronic pain, person-mean peer victimization was found to predict worsening mood, sleep quality, and pain intensity and increased activity limitation (P <.001 for all). A total effect of mood as a mediator between victimization by peers and next-day pain was established (P =.03), and an indirect effect of mood was established between peer victimization and next-day activity limitations (P =.03).

Related Articles

Study limitations include a small number of participants as well as the reliance on self-reported data.

“The chronicity of peer victimization experiences may be an especially potent indicator of risk compared [with] more episodic instances of victimization,” the researchers concluded.

Follow @ClinicalPainAdv


Fales JL, Murphy LK, Rights JD, Palermo TM. Daily peer victimization experiences of adolescents with and without chronic pain: associations with mood, sleep, pain, and activity limitations [published online May 29, 2019]. J Pain. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2019.05.016