Pain-related stigma is a significant and understudied psychosocial factor among adolescents with chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain (CWMP) that has been implicated in impaired health outcomes. The subjectivity of pain self-report increases the opportunity for an individual to experience symptom disbelief by others. Pain-related stigma is a significant public-health priority due to its potential impact on delayed diagnosis and impairment in recovery. Adolescents with CWMP are vulnerable to pain-related stigma from several sources, including physicians, school staff, family, and peers, likely impacting their health. The objectives of this proposal are to: 1) examine how pain-related stigma is a novel and necessary psychosocial component of adolescent CWMP, and 2) develop and validate the Pain-Related Stigma Scale for Adolescents (PReSS-A) in patients with CWMP. Not enough is known about pain-related stigma in this young population. This proposal uses a mixed-methods design to develop a theoretical framework in new areas of psychosocial research for adolescents with CWMP. This research will provide a foundation for understanding pain-related stigma and developing interventions to target this social construct in adolescents with CWMP.
The specific aims are: 1) develop a pain-related stigma framework and PReSS-A items using separate focus groups of adolescents with CWMP and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and their parents; 2) refine PReSS-A items using classical item analyses in a sample of adolescents with CWMP; 3) validate final PReSS-A items in a larger sample of adolescents with CWMP, and test construct validity using a comparative sample of adolescents with JIA, who are hypothesized to report less stigma due to the medical evidence supporting their JIA diagnosis; and 4) leverage structural equation modeling to explore relationships between perceived pain-related stigma and psychosocial and health outcomes. The use of multiple patient populations (i.e., CWMP and JIA) and their parents to examine and validate a measure of this social construct is innovative. This career-development award is designed to allow Dr. Emily Wakefield, a pediatric psychologist in the Division of Pain and Palliative Medicine at Connecticut Children's Medical Center and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, to draw upon ample resources of both institutions to become an independent researcher dedicated to improving health outcomes for adolescents with chronic pain. Her short-term goal is to understand mechanisms contributing to pain-related stigma and develop interventions focused on reducing this stigma in adolescents with CWMP. To achieve this, the career-development plan includes formal and informal training, mentorship and consultation in both qualitative and quantitative research design, and advanced training on statistical analyses, pediatric pain, stigma, and randomized clinical trials. Her long-term goals are to be a national leader in psychosocial research on pediatric chronic pain and an expert on adolescent pain- related psychosocial health outcomes.
Pain-related stigma is a significant and understudied psychosocial factor among adolescents with chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain (CWMP), that has been implicated in impairment in health outcomes and quality of life. This project aims to: 1) develop a novel pain-related stigma framework that is useful in assessing outcomes in adolescent CWMP; and 2) develop and validate the Pain-Related Stigma Scale for Adolescents with CWMP (PReSS-A). This study will lay the foundation for understanding pain-related stigma and developing clinical interventions that will target social factors and improve health outcomes in this population.