A comparison of maternal versus paternal nonverbal behavior during child pain
Schinkel, Meghan G.
Chambers, Christine T.
Moon, Erin C.
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Schinkel, Meghan G. Chambers, Christine T.; Caes, Line; Moon, Erin C. (2016). A comparison of maternal versus paternal nonverbal behavior during child pain. Pain Practice 17 (1), 41-51
Parental behavior plays a significant role in children's pain response. Prior research has found generally no differences between mothers' and fathers' verbal behavior during child pain. This study compared mothers' and fathers' nonverbal behavior during child pain. Nonverbal behavior of mothers (n = 39) and fathers (n = 39) of 39 children (20 boys) aged 8 to 12 years who participated in the cold pressor task (counterbalanced once with each parent) was coded. A range of nonverbal behaviors were coded, including distraction, physical proximity, physical comfort/reassurance, procedure-related attending behavior, and fidgeting. The most common behaviors parents engaged in were fidgeting, procedure-related attending behaviors, and physical proximity. Results indicated that the types of nonverbal behavior parents engage in did not differ between mothers and fathers. However, children of mothers who engaged in more physical comfort/reassurance reported higher levels of pain intensity, and children of mothers who engaged in more procedure-related attending behaviors had lower pain tolerance. Further, both mothers and fathers who engaged in higher levels of verbal nonattending behaviors also engaged in lower levels of nonverbal procedure-related attending behaviors. These findings further support the importance of considering the influence of mothers and fathers in children's pain, and provide novel insights into the role of nonverbal behavior.