Research Critique : Chronic Pain


The study aimed at studying chronic pain that are not caused by somatic disease in adolescents and their effect on both the adolescents and their families. One hundred and twenty eight youngsters kept a diary for three weeks and completed a questionnaire on the impact of their pain on their families. The results revealed the most prevalent pains to be headache, limb pain, and back pain. In terms of gender, girls reported more intense and frequent pain than boys with most of the pain accelerating during the days. A high frequency of pain resulted in lower quality of life in the adolescents and their families. In addition chronic pain had a negative impact on the social and psychological well being of the family.


The paper is a critique of an article that explored the effects of chronic pain on the quality of life of both adolescent and their families. In the paper, the ethical aspects are explored to establish whether the researchers sought ethical validation before and during the research.  The formulation of the research questions and hypothesis is analyzed for their suitability and effectiveness.  Moreover, the methodology used in the research is analyzed to assess the effectiveness based on the type of research chosen.  Further, the relevance of the research in clinical practice especially with regard to future research is analyzed.

Research Critique


The topic of study was the effect of chronic pain on the quality of life of adolescents and their families. More specifically, the type of chronic pain under study was that not caused by somatic diseases. The research thus effectively covered the gap left behind by most studies in the past that had generalized their studies. By focusing on the adolescents, the paper effectively tackled an area that is rarely covered in literature.

Ethical Aspects

In the course of the study, the researchers sought ethical validation from reputable research ethics board. The study was reviewed by the Department of Medical Psychology and Physiotherapy within Erasmus University between the period of 1999 and 2000. In fact, the review was very thorough to warrant three revisions of the research before it was eventually accepted. In addition, the Journal of Pediatric Psychology reviewed the study before eventually publishing the paper in 2000 in their 26th volume. Besides validation by the peer reviewers, the researchers sought consent from the participants before the publication of their narrations. For instance, all the participants in the study were informed of the intended use of their testimonies. It occurs therefore that the research complied with all the ethical aspects in the course of the study and publication.

Research Problems and Hypotheses

The research identifies the research problem as the effect of chronic pain on the quality of life of adolescents and their families. The problem identified in the research shifts from the normal studies that dwell on the prevalence of chronic pain among adults in the society. However, despite the prevalence being more on the adults, studies have reported that most of the patients experience early signs in their adolescence years. The research therefore helps in the study of the topic in general and specifically in the young adolescents’ quality of life. The location of the problem statement in the introduction makes it easy to identify.

The research questions included: what is the cause of pain during the day and; what is the relationship with gender? In the course of the study, the hypothesis that ‘the greater the pain, the poorer the quality of life of the youngsters and the greater the negative impact on the family’ was tested. The choice of the hypothesis is excellent as it points to a relationship between the three variables of pain, quality of life and negative impact on family.

Research Design

The research was purely experimental as it focused on the responses of the participants themselves. In addition, the nature of the research and the formulated hypothesis prompted the study to be purely experimental. Otherwise, the research objectives would not be fully answered in another research design. The research further took on a longitudinal design because of the nature of the research questions. A longitudinal approach, despite requiring more time, was most effective for this study since it required long term observations. This research, as any other, faced threats to internal validity for the obvious reasons of bias. Repeated testing of the participants presented a threat to internal validity and this was minimized through the avoidance of repetitive questions. In addition, the participants were tested in isolation to reduce same threats. Moreover, instrumentation occasioned by different researchers posed another threat to internal validity.


In the methodology, the study employed a convenience sample from a bigger sample of a previous study. The convenience threshold had been set at participants who had experienced chronic pain for more than three months (Hunfeld et al, 2001). Although the period was convenient for the study, it was a loophole for the existence of bias. In so doing, it means that other people not in the bracket sought were disqualified from the study and their inputs disregarded. In addition, some people could have lied to be included in the sample and thus posing weaknesses in the validity of the study.

Data Collection

The methodology employed the use of questionnaires that were mailed to the adolescents and their mothers. Self reports were used where the adolescents were required to record their pain intensity over three weeks in a diary. This was, however, done after the filling of an initial questionnaire by the adolescents. The mothers filled the questionnaires based on the pains that troubled their children the most. The study further used observations in detailing the pain intensity among the adolescents. The same is reflected in the report as it adequately explains the components of the observations.

Clinical Practice

In addition to reporting the results obtained in the study, the research further discuses the results in detail. Particularly, the implications of the results for future research in clinical practice are pointed out. The drawbacks identified in the research are used to point out to the research gaps that can be used in future. These suggestions form the basis for further studies in the subject based on past and present evidence.



Hunfeld, J. A., Perquin, C. W., Duivenvoorden, H. J., Hazebroek-Kampschreur, A. A., Passchier, J., van Suijlekom-Smit, L. W., & van der Wouden, J. C. (2001). Chronic pain and its impact on quality of life in adolescents and their families. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 26(3), 145-153.



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