Catastrophizing and parental response to child symptom complaints

Shelby L. Langer, Joan M. Romano, Rona L. Levy, Lynn S. Walker, William E. Whitehead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


This study investigated whether catastrophic thinking about pain by children with functional abdominal pain or by their parents is associated with health outcomes in the child. Participants were 132 parent-child dyads. Child catastrophizing predicted child depression, anxiety, and functional disability. Parents' catastrophizing cognitions about their own pain predicted self-reported protective responses to their children's abdominal pain (responding in ways that encourage illness behavior). Protectiveness, in turn, predicted child functional disability. All findings held despite controlling for child age, gender, and symptom severity. These results suggest that catastrophic cognitions play an important role in how children and parents cope and respond to functional abdominal pain, and may have implications for assessment and treatment in the clinical setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-184
Number of pages16
JournalChildren's Health Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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