Attributions and coping in children's pain experiences

David A. Langer*, Edith Chen, Janet D. Luhmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine how children's injury attributions and coping strategies relate to procedure-related distress during unplanned medical procedures (laceration repair). Methods: Children (N = 50) with minor lacerations were assessed from emergency department admittance until discharge. Children's attributions of causes regarding their injury were assessed, and the Procedural Behavior Checklist was administered to each child (to assess coping strategies and procedure-related distress). Results: Internally focused attributions of blame correlated with higher distress. Overall, children who reported primary-control coping, as opposed to secondary-control coping and relinquished-control coping, exhibited more pain during the procedure. Children who reported secondary-control coping, as opposed to relinquished-control coping, reported less pain after the procedure. Conclusions: Injury attributions and coping style are significant factors in children's pain experiences. These results suggest that self-blame may heighten subsequent pain experiences. In addition, similar coping strategies appear to be adaptive for unplanned medical procedures as have been found for planned medical procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-622
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of pediatric psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • Child attribution
  • Child coping
  • Injury
  • Medical procedure
  • Pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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