Association between Widespread Pain Scores and Functional Impairment and Health-Related Quality of Life in Clinical Samples of Children

Jennifer A. Rabbitts, Amy Lewandowski Holley, Cornelius B. Groenewald, Tonya M. Palermo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Pain involving several body regions generally represents nervous system pathophysiology shifting from predominantly peripheral to more central. In adults, higher widespread pain scores are clinically meaningful and confer risk for poor response to treatment. It is unknown whether widespread pain is similarly important in children. To address this gap, we conducted an observational study examining 1) associations between widespread pain and functional impairment and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in clinical pediatric samples, and 2) associations among sociodemographic factors and pain catastrophizing with widespread pain scores. Participants were 166 children aged 10 to 18 years from 3 samples (acute pain, presurgery, chronic pain). Children self-reported pain intensity, pain catastrophizing, functional impairment, and HRQOL. Children indicated pain locations on a body diagram, which was coded using the American College of Rheumatology definition of widespread pain. Results revealed higher widespread pain scores were associated with greater functional impairment with routine activities (F = 3.15, P =.02) and poorer HRQOL (F = 3.29, P =.02), adjusting for pain intensity, study group, and demographic characteristics. Older age (B =.11, P =.02), and Hispanic ethnicity (B =.67, P =.04) were associated with higher widespread pain scores. Findings support incorporating evaluation of widespread pain into pediatric pain assessment. Future research is needed to examine the longitudinal effect of widespread pain on children's treatment outcomes. Perspective This article examines the association between widespread pain scores and functional impairment and HRQOL in community and clinical samples of children. Assessment of the spatial distribution of the pain experience provides unique information that may identify children at risk for poorer health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)678-684
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pain
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Widespread pain
  • acute pain
  • chronic pain
  • health outcomes
  • health-related quality of life
  • pain location
  • pediatric pain
  • surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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