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Pain Research and Management
Volume 15, Issue 4, Pages 238-244
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2010/354812
Review

Cognitive and School Functioning in Children and Adolescents with Chronic Pain: A Critical Review

Bruce D Dick1 and Rebecca Pillai Riddell2

1Departments of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine & Psychiatry, University of Alberta, and Stollery Children’s Hospital, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
2Department of Psychology, York University, and Psychiatry Research, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Copyright © 2010 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Cognitive function is a critical factor related to a child’s overall developmental trajectory. There is increasing evidence that chronic pain disrupts cognitive function in adults. Little is known about the nature or impact of cognitive disruption in children and adolescents with chronic pain. The present review examines the current literature related to cognitive function in children and adolescents with chronic pain, implications of these findings and future research directions. Nine studies on this topic were found, with a relatively recent increase in publications related to school attendance and subjective studies of school performance. The studies that were found on this topic suggested that chronic pain affects cognitive function in children but the scope of these effects on children’s function and developmental trajectories is not yet clear. While methodological issues surely make it difficult to study cognitive function in children with chronic pain, the potential gains from such research warrant a pursuit of such work. Much remains to be studied on this important topic.