Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 12-2-2020

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Brooke Jenkins


Around 80% of children who undergo surgery experience moderate to severe postoperative pain. Various psychosocial factors contribute to exacerbations of this pain. A child’s inborn personality traits and style of interaction with the environment are known as temperament. Children who are less sociable and more distress-prone (e.g., those who cry, throw tantrums) are more likely to have an anxious temperament. This anxiety before and after surgery may lead to an increase in postoperative pain levels as well. Parent pain ratings do not always reflect true child pain. Overtime, a parent’s emotional state and mood may change how they perceive child pain. Parents who have more negative moods or are more distressed tend to report their child’s pain as worse and have a negative impact on a child’s pain. Therefore, parents play a crucial role in treatment after surgery. Given this, the purpose of this study was to see how child temperament factors are associated with postoperative pain and how parent mood moderates this relationship. These specific factors are analyzed in a sample of children ages 2-13 who underwent elective surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (N = 112). Prior to the surgery, parents completed online surveys assessing child temperament and parent mood. Postoperative pain measures were reported by both children and parents after surgery on days 1, 3, and 7. Child temperament factors did not interact with parent mood to predict postoperative pain. Emotionality and sociability were not significantly associated with parent pain measures or child pain after surgery (ps > 0.05). However, other studies have shown that child temperament does affect pain in a hospital setting more than they do at home. Interestingly, pain in children was low at home after surgery (less than 3 on a scale of 0 to 10). It is possible that the impact of temperament and mood on pain were less potent once the child is at home following the surgery and pain is lower. Further investigation on the influence of temperament and mood on child pain is important to obtain more clarity and discover optimal methods of treating pain in children. Future work may benefit from investigating different surgical procedures that might lead to a greater diversity of pain once children are home.


Presented at the virtual Fall 2020 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.