Age-Dependent Relationships Among Pain, Depressive Symptoms, and Functional Disability in Youth With Recurrent Headaches

Authors

  • Amy S. Lewandowski MA,

  • Tonya M. Palermo PhD,

  • Catherine C. Peterson PhD


  • From the Department of Psychology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH (Ms. Lewandowski); Department of Anesthesiology and Peri-Operative Medicine, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR (Dr. Palermo); Department of Pediatrics, Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH (Dr. Peterson).

Address all correspondence to Amy Lewandowski, Department of Psychology, Case Western Reserve University, Mather Memorial Building #109, 10900 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106-7123.

Abstract

Objective.—To assess age differences associated with depressive symptoms and functional disability in children and adolescents with recurrent headache.

Background.—Research has indicated that psychological factors, especially depression, are related to the extent and nature of functional disability experienced from headaches. There is a lack of research examining how age impacts the relationship between pain, psychological factors, and activity restriction in children and adolescents with recurrent headache.

Methods.—Seventy-seven participants from a pediatric neurology clinic completed self-report measures of pain intensity, depressive symptoms, and functional disability.

Results.—Findings demonstrated a significant positive correlation between pain and functional disability, and depressive symptoms and functional disability for children. Correlations for adolescents failed to reach significance. Functional disability emerged as a mediator between headache pain and depressive symptoms for children but not for adolescents.

Conclusions.—Results indicate potentially important age differences when examining the impact of functional disability on depressive symptoms in this sample. Findings suggest that functional disability may contribute to depressive symptoms differently for children versus adolescents with recurrent headache. Age-specific interventions that differentially focus on the specific roles that pain, depressive symptoms, and disability have for children and adolescents with recurrent headache may be warranted.

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