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Papers of the Week

Papers: 5 Sep 2020 - 11 Sep 2020

Human Studies

2020 Sep 03


Intergenerational transmission of chronic pain-related disability: the explanatory effects of depressive symptoms.


Parents with chronic pain have a higher likelihood of having depression and anxiety and more often have children with these conditions. Depressive and anxious symptoms in children worsen pain-related disability and may be derived from exposure to their parents' symptoms. We assessed a model of intergenerational chronic pain-related disability that relies upon depressive and anxious symptoms of a mother and their child. Adolescents in grades 5-10 from 5 schools, and their mothers, completed standardized electronic questionnaires about pain. In maternal-offspring dyads (n = 1179), the mean offspring age was 12.7 years (SD = 1.7, range = 10-17) and 51% were girls. Logistic regression was used to investigate mother-offspring associations of chronic pain presence, and mediation models using multiple linear regression were used to investigate the proposed model. Adolescents of mothers with chronic pain had 1.67 (95%CI = 1.29-2.16) times increased odds of chronic pain, with each year of exposure to maternal chronic pain associated with a 5% (OR 95%CI = 1.01-1.10) increased likelihood of offspring chronic pain. Worse maternal pain-related disability was associated with worse offspring pain-related disability (β = 0.20, 95%CI = 0.06-0.34). The mediation model indicated maternal and adolescent offspring symptoms of depression explained 36% of the relationship between maternal and offspring pain-related disability, with 11% explained by the intergenerational transmission of depression (serial mediation). We conclude that worse pain-related disability is associated between parent and child, and that depressive symptoms common to both mother and child play a key role in this relationship.