Everyday worry in adolescents with and without chronic pain: A diary study

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Young people report frequent worry, but we know little about the extent, character, or consequence of worry in adolescence, or individual differences associated with worry. Adolescents with chronic pain are one population that are known to have high levels of anxiety, which is associated with higher levels of disability and depression, impairing function. In this study we report a diary study: adolescents (N=60; aged 16-18) recorded their worry over seven days. Our first aim was to describe the characteristics of adolescent worry and its consequences in a community sample. Our second aim was to compare the experience of girls to boys, and to compare the experience of those with and without chronic pain. Adolescents reported characteristics of each worry they had throughout the week, including content, frequency, strength, interference, emotion, and the strength of emotion associated with worry content. Adolescents reported the consequence for each content and the strength of the consequence. Worry content and consequences were categorised into four categories; health, relationship, personal competence, and other. Adolescents reported 675 unique episodes of worry over the seven-day period that were predominantly about personal competence. The strength of worry content was (M=6.61, SD=1.27) and the strength associated with the worry consequence was (M=5.59, SD=1.41). Worries were not reported as highly interfering (M=4.14, SD=1.61). Contrary to predictions, there were no differences in worry characteristics between adolescents with and without chronic pain. To conclude, worry is a frequent occurrence in older adolescents and the characteristics of worry are discussed. Adolescents worry mostly about personal competence. Adolescents with and without chronic pain reported similar worry characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)800-807
JournalPsychology, Health & Medicine
Issue number7
Early online date1 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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