Psychopathology has little effect on pain behaviour in young people with learning disabilities


The authors of this study set out to look into the issue of behaviour associated with pain in people with learning disabilities being misinterpreted as reflecting psychopathology.

The authors worked with caregivers of 123 children and young people to examine whether psychopathology altered pain behaviour. They asked the caregivers to complete a checklist, the ‘Non-Communicating Children’s Pain Checklist-Revised’ (NCCPC-R) to assess pain behaviour and the ‘Diagnostic Assessment for the Severely Handicapped-II’ to assess psychopathology.

They found from the analysis of the results that 78 of the young people had clinically significant psychological or behavioural symptoms. Their analysis identified three independent components: pain behaviour, affective disorders, and developmental disorders.

The authors conclude that their results “indicate that psychopathology has little effect on pain behavior and that the NCCPC-R is suitable for children with IDD who also have psychological or behavior disorders.”

The Effects of Psychopathology on the Pain Expression of Children and Youth With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Breau L & Camfield C in Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 4, 4, 290-309

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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