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Cognitive processing styles of children and adolescents with headache and back pain: a longitudinal epidemiological study

Authors Barke A, Gaßmann J, Kröner-Herwig B

Received 19 March 2014

Accepted for publication 30 April 2014

Published 10 July 2014 Volume 2014:7 Pages 405—414


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Antonia Barke,1,2 Jennifer Gaßmann,1 Birgit Kröner-Herwig1

1Georg-Elias-Müller-Institute of Psychology, Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany; 2Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Marburg, Germany

Background: Previous research has shown positive relationships between dysfunctional cognitive styles and different aspects of pain (eg, pain frequency). One goal of our longitudinal study was to investigate potential risk factors for the incidence of headache (HA) and back pain (BP).
Methods: In the first wave (2003), questionnaires were sent to 6,400 children between the ages of 9 and 14 years. Those who answered in wave 1 were contacted again every year (four survey waves in total: 2003–2006). The data presented are based on the children's self-reports in the second wave (2004) and third wave (2005). Potential risk factors (dysfunctional stress coping, pain catastrophizing, anxiety sensitivity, and somatosensory amplification) were collected in wave 2. Binary logistic regression analyses – for boys and girls – were performed to assess the predictive value of the risk factors for HA and BP in wave 3.
Results: In the comprehensive model, none of the examined variables predicted the incidence of HA. Anxiety sensitivity increased the risk that boys would report BP after 1 year by 50% and dysfunctional stress coping increased the risk by 40%. For girls, somatosensory amplification increased the risk of the incidence of BP 1 year later by 80%, whereas pain catastrophizing reduced the risk by 50%.
Conclusion: In this incidence sample, the amount of variance explained by the psychological variables investigated was very small. Integrating this result with existing findings from cross-sectional studies suggests that dysfunctional cognitive processing styles may develop more as a consequence or a concomitant feature of BP or HA, but play a less important role in its initial development.

Keywords: longitudinal study, risk factors, coping, incidence

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