A clinical profile of a cohort of patients referred to an anesthesiology-based pediatric chronic pain medicine program

Academic Article


  • BACKGROUND: Pediatric chronic pain is very common and results in significant health care costs. Pediatric chronic pain is both an individual and a public health concern. The primary objective of this study was to generate a descriptive clinical profile of the patients referred to an anesthesiology-based pediatric chronic pain medicine program. This patient profile was intended to serve as a surrogate for a more formal population needs assessment. METHODS: A quantitative observational study design was applied. The independent study variables included the primary pain-related diagnosis, duration of pain symptoms, patient age, patient sex, insurance status, an intact biological family unit, fulltime school attendance, home schooling, and comorbid depression and/or anxiety. Using a series of previously well-validated measurement instruments, the dependent study variables included self-reported chronic pain intensity, self-reported and parent proxy-reported health-related quality of life, adverse family impact, and parental satisfaction. Study data collection occurred at the time of the first visit to the pediatric chronic pain medicine clinic but before interacting with any health care provider. RESULTS: The enrolled patients (n = 100) were predominantly adolescent females, whose chronic pain had persisted for >1 yr and whose pain was frequently accompanied by clinically significant anxiety and depression. As compared with national and state norms, a significantly disproportionate percentage had a nonintact biological family unit (P < 0.001), was not attending school fulltime (P < 0.001), and was intentionally being home-schooled (P < 0.001). Ninety-five percent of the present cohort of patients had previously been under the care of at least one other subspecialist for their chronic pain condition. The mean initial patient self-reported and initial parent proxy-reported health-related quality of life scores (PedsQL Total Score) were also significantly lower than the PedsQL Total Score values previously observed in pediatric rheumatology patients (P < 0.0001), pediatric migraine patients (P < 0.0001), and pediatric cancer patients (P < 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: Pediatric chronic pain patients previously under the care of another subspecialist and subsequently referred to an anesthesiology-based pediatric chronic pain medicine program seemed to be experiencing significantly worse health-related quality of life. The routine assessment of chronic pain-related pediatric health-related quality of life seems feasible and worthwhile. Attention also needs to be focused on consistently addressing the strength of a patient's coping mechanisms, the presence of pain-promoting versus pain-reducing parental behaviors, and preexisting parental pain and disability. © 2008 by International Anesthesia Research Society.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Vetter TR
  • Start Page

  • 786
  • End Page

  • 794
  • Volume

  • 106
  • Issue

  • 3