P2 -To Befriend or Not: Naturally Developing Friendships Amongst a Group of Teens With Chronic Pain


  • P. A. Forgeron


Background: Adolescent friendships are a major source of social support but teens with chronic pain may have friendship challenges. We aimed to quantify the desire for, frequency and characteristics of peer support friendships amongst teens with chronic pain. Methods: An online descriptive study in adolescents with chronic pain captured internalizing behaviors, support from existing friends, and questions on peer-to-peer friendships. Findings: Despite 85% of teens being interested in meeting another with chronic pain only 32% developed a friendship. Amongst those who established a friendship 92% rated feeling understood as the greatest benefit. These friendships were highly characterized by pain talk, and were short term, and rarely integrated into existing friendships. Discussion: Feelings of belonging are critical during adolescence. Teens with chronic pain often feel misunderstood, but before clinicians actively recommend peer support amongst this population further research is needed. Negative outcomes such as co-rumination and overly solicitous behaviors may be risks. Strategies to address social support needs of teens with chronic pain will be discussed.