Parental behaviour in paediatric chronic pain: A qualitative observational study

E. Dunford, M. Thompson, J. Gauntlett-Gilbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (SciVal)


Objectives: Parental behaviour appears to influence the adjustment of children with chronic pain. However, research in this area has failed to produce consistent evidence. Studies have tended to rely on self-report measures derived from adult pain populations. This qualitative, observational research provides descriptive data of parental behaviour in a clinical environment.

Design: A qualitative observational study was made of parents and adolescents in a physically stressful setting. Modified grounded theory was used to analyse verbal and non-verbal behaviours.

Methods: Eight parent–adolescent dyads seeking treatment for chronic pain were videoed during physical exercise sessions. Verbal and non-verbal behaviours were recorded and transcribed.

Results: Four overarching categories emerged: ‘monitoring’, ‘protecting’, ‘encouraging’ and ‘instructing’. These often had both verbal and non-verbal aspects. Within these categories, more precise behavioural groups were also identified.

Conclusions: This research identifies categories of parental behaviour that were derived directly from observation, rather than imposed on the basis of results from different populations. Four categories of behaviour were derived, which clarify and extend dimensions used in existing self-report instruments. Careful description of parental behaviours showed features that past research has neglected, and highlighted potential drawbacks of apparently positive parental actions
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-575
Number of pages15
JournalClinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Issue number4
Early online date27 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


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