Individual Differences in the Relationship Between Pain Fear, Avoidance, and Pain Severity in a Chronic Abdominal Pain Sample and the Moderating Effect of Child Age.

Document Type


Publication Date



DOI: 10.1093/abm/kaaa096


BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: Most studies examining the components of the fear-avoidance model have examined processes at the group level. The current study used ecological momentary assessments to: (a) investigate the group and intraindividual relationships between pain fear, avoidance, and pain severity, (b) identify any heterogeneity between these relationships, and (c) explore the role of moderators to explain such heterogeneity.

METHODS: Seventy-one pediatric patients with chronic abdominal pain (M = 13.34 years, standard deviation = 2.67 years) reported pain fear, avoidance, and pain severity four times per day over 14 days.

RESULTS: Results indicated significant individual differences in the relationship between pain fear and pain avoidance predicting pain severity. Child age helped explain the heterogeneity in the relationships between pain avoidance and pain severity such that older children had a stronger and more positive relationship between these variables. The random effect between pain fear and pain severity also indicated a moderator trend of child age such that older children were likely to have a stronger and more positive relationship.

CONCLUSIONS: The present study extends the fear-avoidance model by highlighting the importance of identifying potential individual differences when examining pain fear, avoidance, and pain severity. Furthermore, the current study suggests that child development should be considered in the model. However, future randomized control designs are necessary to explore the causal relationships between pain fear and avoidance on pain severity and potential developmental differences.

Journal Title

Annals of behavioral medicine : a publication of the Society of Behavioral Medicine





First Page


Last Page



Avoidance; Chronic pain; Fear; Pain; Pediatric

Library Record