Systematic Review and Meta-analysis: Psychological Therapies for Children with Chronic Pain

E A Fisher, Lauren Heathcote, Tonya M Palermo, Amanda C de C Williams, Jennfier Lau, Christopher Eccleston

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Objectives This systematic review and meta-analysis examined the effects of psychological therapies for management of chronic pain in children. Methods Randomized controlled trials of psychological interventions treating children (<18 years) with chronic pain conditions including headache, abdominal, musculoskeletal, or neuropathic pain were searched for. Pain symptoms, disability, depression, anxiety, and sleep outcomes were extracted. Risk of bias was assessed and quality of the evidence was rated using GRADE. Results 35 included studies revealed that across all chronic pain conditions, psychological
interventions reduced pain symptoms and disability posttreatment. Individual pain conditions were analyzed separately. Sleep outcomes were not reported in any trials. Optimal dose of treatment was explored. For headache pain, higher treatment dose led to greater reductions in pain. No effect of dosage was found for other chronic pain conditions. Conclusions Evidence for psychological therapies treating chronic pain is promising. Recommendations for clinical practice and research are presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-782
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Pediatric Psychology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014


  • adolescents
  • Children
  • Chronic pain
  • Psychological interventions


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