Children's pain behaviour depend on how their parents react to deal with pain, according to a new research.
Suzyen Kraljevic, from the University Hospital Split in Croatia, and colleagues examined the relationship between pain catastrophizing specifically - or the exaggerated negative mental state in response to actual or anticipated pain experience - in parents and their first-born child.
Using a questionnaire, the researchers assessed the extent to which 285 participants were distressed in response to pain - 100 patients with chronic pain from the Pain Clinic of the University Hospital Split, 85 spouses and 100 adult children.
In addition, they measured the level of actual pain experienced by the patients. "We found that parents' pain catastrophizing scores predicted their adult children's results, irrespective of the level of actual pain experienced by the adult patients.
Since during childhood parents serve as a model that children imitate, it is possible that children use social and communicative tools that they have observed in their parents, to manage their own distress in a similar context.
"Families may develop a specific cognitive style of dealing with pain," conclude Kraljevic and colleagues.
The research is published online in Springer's International Journal of Behavioral Medicine.