Elke Van Lierde

Keywords

Chronic pain – Observational learning – Cognitive processing of pain

The familial transmission of pain: the role of observational learning in the parent-child dyad

Chronic and recurrent pain is a common health problem among children and adolescents. Research has demonstrated that chronic pain tends to run in families, but the underlying mechanisms are still unclear. In this project, we will focus on processes that can make children of chronic pain sufferers more vulnerable to develop chronic pain themselves. According to the fear-avoidance model (FAM), three psychological processes are considered to be pivotal in the development and sustainment of chronic pain in adults and children: pain catastrophizing (i.e., the tendency to exaggerate the threat value of pain and perceived inability to cope with pain), pain-related fear (PRF; i.e., an emotional fear reaction to pain-related stimuli) and hypervigilance (i.e., heightened selective attention) to pain. Extensive research has shown that a vicious cycle of pain, catastrophizing, fear, attention to pain and disability is involved in the development and maintenance of chronic pain. As pain is considered a bio-psycho-social phenomenon, the FAM was expanded to account for the social context of (pediatric) pain. Bidirectional influences between parents’ and child’s catastrophizing thoughts and PRF in the development of chronic pain in children were included. These influences can be direct through the behaviors parents engage in when their child is in pain (e.g., protective behaviors) or indirect through observational learning, which has been defined as “changes in patterns of behavior as a consequence of observing specific behaviors in others”. The core assumption of this project is that the observation of parents’ pain (responses) may induce risk factors for developing chronic pain in children. Specifically, we aim to investigate how observing a parent’s pain can induce PRF and heighten vigilance to pain-related cues. This is of crucial importance, since these dynamics could explain the intergenerational transmission of pain problems. Furthermore we aim to study whether children’s (neural) responsiveness to pain is influenced by observing a parent’s pain.

(sponsored by FWO “Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek – Vlaanderen”)

promotor: Prof. Dr. Eva Van den Bussche (VUB)
promotor: Prof. Dr. Liesbet Goubert (Ugent)
co-promotor: Dr. Gethin Hughes (University of Essex)

Education

Master in Psychology. Clinical (Biological) Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, July 2013
Master Thesis: Comparing conscious and unconscious conflict adaptation

promotor: Prof. Dr. Eva Van den Bussche (VUB)

Academic career

PhD Researcher (FWO, 2014 – current)

Internships and research visists

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium). Six month internship under supervision of Prof. Dr. Hans Op de Beeck (09/2012-03/2013)

Gezondheidspsychologie II (UGent), praktijkoefeningen

Scientific Publications

Van Lierde, E., Desender, K., & Van den Bussche, E. (2015). Is conflict adaptation triggered by feature repetitions? An unexpected finding. Frontiers in Psychology: Cognition, 5:1358. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01358 [pdf]

*Desender, K., *Van Lierde, E., & Van den Bussche, E. (2013). Comparing conscious and unconscious conflict adaptation. PLoS ONE, 8(2). [pdf]

Conferences

Van Lierde, E., Van den Bussche, E., Hughes, G., & Goubert, L. (2015). The familial transmission of pain: Do children learn to fear pain after observing pain? Oral presentation at the Pain Research Meeting, September 24-25 , Genk (Belgium).

Van Lierde, E., Van den Bussche, E., Hughes, G., Vervoort, T., & Goubert, L. (2015). Learning to fear pain after observing another’s pain: An experimental study in schoolchildren. Poster presented at the 9th Congress of the European Pain Federation EFIC, September 2-5 , Vienna (Austria).

Van Lierde, E., Van den Bussche, E., Hughes, G., Vervoort, T., & Goubert, L. (2015). Learning to fear pain and to attend to it after observing your mother’s pain: Study Plan. Poster presented at the fourth annual conference of the Association for Researchers in Psychology and Health (ARPH), February 5-6 , Ghent (Belgium).

Desender, K., Van Lierde, E., & Van den Bussche, E. (2012). Comparing conscious and unconscious conflict adaptation. Poster presented at the 16th annual meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC16). July 2-6, Brighton (UK).


Foto_Elke

Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Department of Psychology
Pleinlaan 2
B – 1050 Brussel
Belgium
phone : 32-2-6292526
Office: 3C232
email : Elke.van.lierde@vub.ac.be