By Katrina M. Cordts, Ph.D., Oregon Health & Science University, USA

It is with much excitement that I share updates on my two-week visit to collaborate with Dr. Liesbet Goubert at Ghent University in Belgium. We were delighted to receive the SPP International Collaboration Award to support the development of a dyadic daily diary assessment tool to capture the dynamic and reciprocal nature of parent and child pain behaviors.

Youth with a parent with chronic pain are at increased risk for developing chronic pain. Comprehensive models of intergenerational risk have identified a number of possible mechanisms for transmission of chronic pain from parents to offspring including social learning, parenting and health factors, and shared exposure to stressful environments. A better understanding of the dyadic psychosocial factors underlying this framework may help detect at-risk youth and inform preventative interventions. However, there are few tools with the sensitivity to capture day-to-day variation in the dyadic psychosocial mechanisms that might confer risk. During the visit I gained practical and applicable guidance in the development and validation of an assessment tool with sensitivity to capture day-to-day variability in parent-child behaviors that may contribute to the intergenerational transmission of chronic pain.

Throughout the course of my visit, I was fortunate to participate in several lab meetings, attend research seminars, and meet with many members of the Ghent Health Psychology Lab. An added highlight of my trip was the three-day research retreat during which we engaged in research discussions and brainstorming sessions in a beautiful and remote location. Our time together served as a teambuilding opportunity, while also promoting conceptual conversations regarding future directions in pain research.  It was an incredible opportunity to consider the “bigger picture,” including questions yet to be answered in the development, assessment, and treatment of pediatric chronic pain and related health behaviors. The research retreat was the perfect chance to gain a deeper understanding of individual research projects, identify shared interests, and form new research partnerships. The retreat was an invaluable addition to my visit and truly enhanced our ongoing and future collaborations. Although the visit went by quickly, we have remained in close communication as we finalize the dyadic assessment tool and associated manuscript.

I am immensely grateful for the wonderful hospitality and training I received from Dr. Goubert and her team. A sincere thank you to Dr. Anna Wilson for her encouragement and support of this endeavor during my fellowship year. Finally, I extend my gratitude to SPP for offering an enriching opportunity to solidify international partnerships as I begin my professional career. We look forward to sharing our findings as we develop a tool sensitive to the daily fluctuations in psychosocial mechanisms that precipitate the intergenerational transmission of chronic pain.