Psychological Flexibility Improves Resilience in Children With Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis and Their Parents

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Psychological flexibility in children was found to contribute to improved psychosocial health-related functioning and reduced negative affect.
Psychological flexibility in children was found to contribute to improved psychosocial health-related functioning and reduced negative affect.

Psychological flexibility in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis and in their parents may represent resilience factors for dealing with pain and disability associated with the condition, according to a study published in Pain Medicine.

A total of 59 children (average age, 13.76 years) with juvenile idiopathic arthritis and 48 parents were asked to complete questionnaires to assess general and pain-specific psychological flexibility, as well as psychosocial and emotional functioning and disability in children.

Psychological flexibility in children was found to contribute to improved psychosocial health-related functioning (P <.01) and reduced negative affect (P <.001). Pain acceptance in children was found to contribute to improved psychosocial functioning, reduced disability, reduced negative affect, and higher "buffering" of the negative influence of pain intensity on disability.

General psychological flexibility in parents was found to directly contribute to the child psychosocial functioning and affect, and was mediated by the child's psychological flexibility. Pain-specific psychological flexibility in parents was not found to be associated with children's psychosocial functioning, disability, or negative affect.

Study limitations include the inability to infer causality because of a cross-sectional design.

"Several indirect associations between parental [psychological flexibility] and child functioning (via the child's own [psychological flexibility]) emerged, suggesting that parents may be a source of resilience for the child as well," the researchers noted. "Our findings further highlight the importance of discriminating between general and pain-specific [psychological flexibility]."

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Reference

Beeckman M, et al. Resilience factors in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis and their parents: The role of child and parent psychological flexibility [published online September 25, 2018]. Pain Med. doi: 10.1093/pm/pny181

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