The The Role of Executive Functioning in Understanding Chronic Pain Experiences in Adolescence: A Pilot Multi-Method Study executive functioning and chronic pain

Main Article Content

Line Caes Ewan Wallace Christina Duncan Bruce Dick

Abstract

Background: Optimal executive functioning is pivotal to successful self-management of chronic pain (e.g., by being able to adapt self-management behaviours to changing situations), thereby contributing to improved health-related quality of life. However, preliminary evidence points to impaired executive functioning in people with chronic pain. Despite adolescence being identified as a sensitive period for the development of appropriate self-management and executive functioning skills, little is known about the associations between chronic pain and executive functioning performance in adolescents. The aim of the study was to pilot a multi-method approach to compare executive functioning, chronic pain, and quality of life between adolescents with and without chronic pain.


Methods: A sample of 22 adolescents with chronic pain (12-18 years, 82% female, mean chronic pain duration = 6.68 years) and 13 pain-free adolescents (age and sex matched) participated. All participants completed a battery of neuropsychological tasks to assess the three key executive functioning components (i.e., inhibition, working memory and cognitive flexibility) and provided self-report on their executive functioning, pain experiences and health-related quality of life.


Results: In addition to confirming the feasibility of the methods, data revealed that 23-62% of adolescents with chronic pain showed problematic performance, using normative scoring, in all three executive functioning components and showed significantly lower performance on all three executive functioning components compared to pain-free adolescents. Self-reported, but not neuropsychologically assessed, working memory and emotional control difficulties were associated with more pain-related interference and lower health-related quality of life.


Conclusion: These preliminary findings reveal the critical need to screen for and address any potential deficits in executive functioning in adolescents with chronic pain to optimise their self-management of pain and subsequent health-related quality of life. The findings also illustrate the feasibility of and need for future systematic, multi-method and prospective investigations in larger samples to further clarify the cyclical associations between chronic pain and executive functioning in adolescents.

Keywords: adolescent, chronic pain, executive function, emotion regulation, quality of life

Article Details

How to Cite
CAES, Line et al. The The Role of Executive Functioning in Understanding Chronic Pain Experiences in Adolescence: A Pilot Multi-Method Study. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 10, n. 12, jan. 2023. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <https://esmed.org/MRA/mra/article/view/3361>. Date accessed: 29 jan. 2023. doi: https://doi.org/10.18103/mra.v10i12.3361.
Section
Research Articles

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