Associations between biased threat interpretations, fear and avoidance of pain and pain-linked disability in adolescent chronic pain patients.
Biased interpretations of ambiguous bodily threat situations characterise youth with chronic pain, and have been associated with functional disability for this population. Despite predictions by the fear-avoidance model of chronic pain, that fear and avoidance of pain explain the association between threat perceptions and disability, this has not yet been explored in youth with chronic pain. The current study aimed to address this gap by investigating these proposed relationships, in addition to the association between bodily threat interpretations and daily aspects of disability (as well as social, and emotional impairments).Sixty-eight adolescents aged 11-18 years old with a clinical diagnosis of chronic pain completed an extended version of the Adolescent Interpretations of Bodily Threat task to assess interpretations of bodily and social threat situations, alongside measures of disability and fear and avoidance of pain.Using mediation analysis, fear and avoidance of pain statistically accounted for the relationship between negative bodily threat interpretations and functional disability. Significant associations were also demonstrated between negative bodily threat interpretations and adolescent-reported impairments in daily, emotional and social impairments. Data revealed a significant relationship between negative social interpretations and daily functional disability.Findings indicate the clinical relevance of bodily and social threat interpretations, and fear and avoidance of pain, for this population and raise further questions regarding the content-specificity of threat interpretations.