Beliefs About Pain in Pediatric Inflammatory and Noninflammatory Chronic Musculoskeletal Conditions: A Scoping Review

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Objective: The Common Sense Self-Regulatory Model posits that beliefs about pain influence coping behaviors and subsequent physical and mental health outcomes in children/young people with chronic musculoskeletal conditions. It was unclear how and what beliefs had been investigated in this population, and whether there were similarities and differences in beliefs held about pain by those experiencing inflammatory versus noninflammatory musculoskeletal conditions. This scoping review addressed this gap. Methods: A systematic search was conducted using four databases (MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Embase, and CINAHL) in November 2021. Primary studies exploring key stakeholders' (including children, parents, and/or healthcare professionals) beliefs about pain underlying pediatric chronic musculoskeletal conditions were synthesized. Results: Eighteen articles were identified. Cross-sectional designs were predominantly used to explore beliefs (n = 6). The majority used questionnaires to assess beliefs (n = 12). Beliefs common across musculoskeletal conditions were that children/young people felt their pain was not understood by others, and pain affected their physical functioning. Differences included children/young people and parents thinking they had some ability to control pain, and causal beliefs relating to underlying disease activity. These pain beliefs were more likely to be held in relation to inflammatory diagnoses. In contrast, children/young people and parents were more likely to view pain as uncontrollable, with more uncertainty regarding underlying causes, relating to noninflammatory diagnoses. Conclusions: Methods used to explore pain beliefs were inconsistent. Studies identified similarities and differences which appear to be closely related to the underlying diagnosis. Findings justify further exploration to identify potentially modifiable targets to improve pain outcomes in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)825-841
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Pediatric Psychology
Issue number10
Early online date21 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2023


  • adolescent
  • children
  • health beliefs
  • musculoskeletal
  • pain
  • pain beliefs
  • pediatric


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