To investigate, via systematic review and meta-analysis, caregiver sociodemographic and biopsychosocial factors associated with anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress symptoms, and stress of caregivers in the pediatric chronic pain context.
EMBASE, Medline, and PsycINFO databases were searched from their inception to the search date (April 4, 2022). Studies were included if they examined caregivers of youth with chronic pain, were published in a peer-reviewed journal and assessed at least one quantitative association between relevant variables. Qualitative and intervention studies were excluded. A total of 3,052 articles were screened. Risk of bias was assessed using the JBI Checklist for analytical cross-sectional studies. Meta-analyses were conducted using robust variance estimation for associations reported in at least three studies, as well as a narrative synthesis of the evidence.
Fourteen studies assessing 1,908 caregivers were included in this review. Meta-analytic results showed a positive pooled correlation coefficient between caregiver catastrophizing about their child’s pain and caregiver anxiety (r = 0.51; 95% CI: 0.35–0.65; p<.01) and depression (r = 0.45; 95% CI: 0.29–0.58; p < .01). Self-blame and helplessness were related to increased caregiver anxiety (r = 0.55; 95% CI: 0.40–0.67; p<.01), but not depression. No significant relationship was found for pain-promoting behavior and anxiety or depression. The qualitative synthesis of all other eligible studies showed associations between relevant psychological burden variables and various caregiver factors, which were mainly psychosocial.
Results should be interpreted with caution due to the small number of studies. Further research is needed to get a better understanding of these relationships and to examine the causal direction of effects.