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Parental behaviour in paediatric chronic pain: A qualitative observational study

Dunford, Emma; Thompson, Miles; Gauntlett-Gilbert, Jeremy

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Emma Dunford

Jeremy Gauntlett-Gilbert


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.


Dunford, E., Thompson, M., & Gauntlett-Gilbert, J. (2014). Parental behaviour in paediatric chronic pain: A qualitative observational study. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 19(4), 561-575.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2014
Deposit Date Feb 4, 2015
Publicly Available Date Feb 20, 2016
Journal Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Print ISSN 1359-1045
Electronic ISSN 1461-7021
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 19
Issue 4
Pages 561-575
Keywords parental behaviour, chronic pain, adolescents, observational study
Public URL
Publisher URL


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