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Parent self-efficacy for managing pain in seriously ill children and adolescents nearing end of life

  • Mary W. Byrne (a1), Elana Evan (a2), Lorie S. Goshin (a1), Matthew D. Erlich (a3), Jackie H.J. Kim (a2), John M. Saroyan (a4) and Lonnie K. Zeltzer (a5)...



Using data from a multi-site study of parent–child symptom reporting concordance, this secondary analysis explored the role of parent self-efficacy related to pain management for seriously ill school-age children and adolescents.


In the initial study, 50 children and adolescents who were expected to survive 3 years or less were recruited along with their parent/primary caregiver. Parent self-report data were used in this secondary analysis to describe parent self-efficacy for managing their child's pain, caregiver strain, mood states, and perception of the child's pain; to explore relationships among these variables; and to determine predictors of greater self-efficacy.


Parents expressed a wide range of self-efficacy levels (Chronic Pain Self-Efficacy Scale; possible range 10–100, mean 76.2, SD 14.7) and higher levels on average than reported previously by family caregivers of adult patients. Caregiver Strain Index scores were markedly high (possible range 0–13, mean 8.1, SD 3.8) and inversely correlated with self-efficacy (r = −0.44, p = 0.001). On the Profile of Mood States parents reported more negative moods (t = 4.0, p < 0.001) and less vigor (t = −5.0, p < 0.001) than adults in a normative sample, yet vigor rather than mood disturbance predicted self-efficacy. With the exception of child age, self-efficacy was not associated with demographics (child gender, ethnicity, household income, parent age, education, family size) or with the diagnostic groups (primarily cardiac and oncologic) comprising the sample. Younger child age, less caregiver strain, more parent vigor, and parent perception that child is without pain predicted more than half of the variance in parent self-efficacy (R2 = 0.51).

Significance of results:

Findings advance knowledge of parent self-efficacy in managing the pain of a child with life-threatening illness. Results can be used to design supportive interventions enhancing parents’ caregiving roles during their child's last stages of life.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Mary W. Byrne, Columbia University School of Nursing, 617 West 168 Street, New York, NY 10032. E-mail:


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Parent self-efficacy for managing pain in seriously ill children and adolescents nearing end of life

  • Mary W. Byrne (a1), Elana Evan (a2), Lorie S. Goshin (a1), Matthew D. Erlich (a3), Jackie H.J. Kim (a2), John M. Saroyan (a4) and Lonnie K. Zeltzer (a5)...


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