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Pain Research and Management
Volume 17 (2012), Issue 6, Pages 397-405

Pediatric Fear-Avoidance Model of Chronic Pain: Foundation, Application and Future Directions

Gordon JG Asmundson,1 Melanie Noel,2 Mark Petter,2 and Holly A Parkerson1

1Department of Psychology, University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
2Department of Psychology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Copyright © 2012 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.


The fear-avoidance model of chronic musculoskeletal pain has become an increasingly popular conceptualization of the processes and mechanisms through which acute pain can become chronic. Despite rapidly growing interest and research regarding the influence of fear-avoidance constructs on pain-related disability in children and adolescents, there have been no amendments to the model to account for unique aspects of pediatric chronic pain. A comprehensive understanding of the role of fear-avoidance in pediatric chronic pain necessitates understanding of both child/adolescent and parent factors implicated in its development and maintenance. The primary purpose of the present article is to propose an empirically-based pediatric fear-avoidance model of chronic pain that accounts for both child/adolescent and parent factors as well as their potential interactive effects. To accomplish this goal, the present article will define important fear-avoidance constructs, provide a summary of the general fear-avoidance model and review the growing empirical literature regarding the role of fear-avoidance constructs in pediatric chronic pain. Assessment and treatment options for children with chronic pain will also be described in the context of the proposed pediatric fear-avoidance model of chronic pain. Finally, avenues for future investigation will be proposed.