Interpersonal relationships in adolescent chronic pain: A qualitative synthesis

Abbie Jordan, Hannah Family, Paula Forgeron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (SciVal)


Numerous qualitative studies suggest that adolescents with chronic pain experience disruptions to their interpersonal relationships. A synthesis of this research has not yet been conducted. Using a qualitative metasynthesis approach, we collated, interpreted and (re) presented what is known about how adolescents with chronic pain and their significant others describe their interpersonal relationships.
A systematic search strategy was developed to identify and retrieve all primary studies focused on exploring social relationships of adolescents with chronic pain and their significant others using qualitative methodology published by 31st December 2016. Searches identified 1309 papers, with 8 papers meeting inclusion criteria. Included papers were reviewed for quality, and thematic content. Overall, these papers included 127 participants, comprising adolescents with pain, parents, siblings and peers.
Data was characterized by two themes: restriction and tensions. Findings highlighted the complex, and typically deleterious impact of chronic pain on relationships held by adolescents with chronic pain and significant others (e.g. parents). Data illustrated tensions between adolescents’ and others’ perceptions of pain on everyday life in addition to a sense of pain restricting adolescent and parental relationships through processes of isolation and difference. Findings also identified the strengthening of relationships due to challenges associated with living with adolescent chronic pain. Study results highlight the importance of assessing the impact of pain on interpersonal relationships. Secondly, findings illustrate the need to develop and test treatment approaches to enable adolescents and their family members to maintain and strengthen positive interpersonal relationships and to develop more adaptive social functioning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303–318
JournalClinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • adolescent chronic pain, relationships, parents, peers, family


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