BACKGROUND: There is a high demand for robust research into understanding the scope and consequences of musculoskeletal pain in children. An important part of this involves clarifying issues surrounding its measurement, not least differences in reporting from the children themselves and their parents. Therefore this study will assess the degree of agreement between parents' report of their child's pain and the child's own assessment.
METHODS: Data were collected in 2013 and 2014 as part of a larger cohort study investigating the health of Danish school children. Two study samples included 354 and 334 child-parent pairs who were independently asked whether the child had experienced musculoskeletal pain in the previous week. Children were between the ages of 10 and 14 years old. Parents provided answers via text message and children were questioned in person or via questionnaire at their school.
RESULTS: Percentage agreement between parent and child assessment was around 50 % in Sample 1 and 68 % in Sample 2. The poor agreement was due to children reporting pain when their parent did not, the reverse very rarely occurred. Pain of greater intensity or longer duration resulted in better agreement between the child and parent. Child age and gender did not influence the likelihood of agreement.
CONCLUSION: Children often experience pain that is not reported by their parents resulting in poor concordance between pain reports from the two sources. While it is not possible to say which is more valid we can conclude they are not interchangeable.