Parental catastrophizing about their child's chronic pain: are mothers and fathers different?Eur J Pain. 2011 May; 15(5):515.e1-9.EJ
Preliminary evidence suggests that parental catastrophizing about their child's pain may be important in understanding both parental responses to their child's pain and the child's pain experience. However, little is known about potential differences between mothers and fathers. There were three aims of the present study addressing this lack of knowledge: (i) to investigate the three-factor structure of the German version of the Parental Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS-P) (Goubert et al., 2006) in mothers and fathers of children with chronic pain, (ii) to explore differences between mothers and fathers in parental catastrophizing, (iii) to investigate the contribution of parental catastrophizing on the child's chronic pain problem and pain-related parent behavior. In a sample of 128 mothers and fathers of paediatric chronic pain patients, the invariance of the PCS-P was evaluated. Results replicated the previously established three-factor structure (i.e. rumination, magnification and helplessness) in both groups. Mothers reported higher levels of catastrophizing as compared to fathers. Specifically, mothers and fathers differed on levels of rumination; the two groups did not differ in magnification and helplessness. Maternal but not paternal catastrophizing contributed significantly in explaining the child's pain intensity whereas neither mothers' nor fathers' catastrophizing were significantly related to the child's disability. Both maternal and paternal catastrophizing contributed significantly to heightened parental solicitous responses. Fathers' but not mothers' catastrophizing also contributed to heightened distracting responses. The present findings attest to the importance of maternal and paternal catastrophizing for the child's pain characteristics and pain-related parent behavior, which are both relevant for treatment conceptualization.