Title: Parental emotional responses to their child's pain: The role of dispositional empathy and catastrophizing about their child's pain
Authors: Goubert, Liesbet ×
Vervoort, Tine
Sullivan, Michael J. L
Verhoeven, Katrien
Crombez, Geert #
Issue Date: 2008
Publisher: Churchill Livingstone
Series Title: The Journal of Pain vol:9 issue:3 pages:272-279
Abstract: Little is known about how a child’s experience of pain affects his or her parents. Using a
vignette methodology, this study investigated the emotional responses of parents who were asked
to imagine different painful situations that their child might experience. A sample of 650 parents of
school children (325 mothers; 325 fathers) read 8 short stories/vignettes about their child, which
varied in terms of type of situation (pain vs other stressful situation), intensity (high vs low), and
frequency of occurrence (high vs low). The role of individual differences in parental catastrophizing
about their child’s pain, catastrophizing about their own pain, dispositional empathy, and gender was
also investigated. Parents’ dispositional empathy was found to have an impact on parental distress
and concern for their child. Catastrophizing about their child’s pain had a unique contribution to
parents’ emotional responses to the vignettes describing their child in pain, beyond the influence of
other variables. The impact of parental catastrophizing about their child’s pain was most pronounced
for parental distress, probably reflecting the high threat value that they attribute to their child’s pain.
The findings are discussed within recent models of empathy and pain, delineating possible relationships
with parents’ behavioral responses to their child’s pain.
ISSN: 1526-5900
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Non-KU Leuven Association publications
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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