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“Hey Dad, Watch Me”: The Effects of Training a Child to Teach Pain Management Skills to a Parent With Recurrent Headaches

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 October 2014

Grant J. Devilly
University of Queensland
Matthew R. Sanders*
University of Queensland
Department of Psychiatry, The University of Queensland, Royal Brisbane Hospital, Herston QLD 4029, Australia


This study examines the efficacy of a cognitive-behavioural program for recurrent headaches which was first implemented with an 8-year-old boy suffering from headaches. The child was subsequently trained to implement the same intervention with his father who also suffered from headaches. The treatment involved pain management skills, such as relaxation training, imagery, positive self-talk, and distraction techniques. In addition, a parent contingency management component involving the mother was employed. The treatment intervention was sequentially introduced to the child and father in a nonconcurrent multiple-baseline across-subjects design. Headache diaries and self-report measures were completed by both clients. From pre- to posttreatment there was respectively a 92.5% and 86.7% improvement in headache frequency, a 67% and 85% improvement in mean headache intensity and a 89.44% and 28% improvement in headache duration. Three-month follow-up data showed that both subjects had 100% improvement rates on all headache measures. The results highlight that some children can successfully teach their parents pain management skills. Possible implications of the results for the treatment of families, where multiple family members suffer from pain, are discussed.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s) 1993

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