Associations between adolescent pain and psychopathology in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study


Pain and psychopathology co-occur in adolescence, but the directionality and etiology of these associations are unclear. Using the pain questionnaire and the Child Behavior Checklist from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study (n = 10,414 children [770 twin pairs] aged 12–13), we estimated longitudinal, co-twin control, and twin models to evaluate the nature of these associations. In two-wave cross-lag panel models, there were small cross-lag effects that suggested bidirectional associations. However, the co-twin control models suggested that most associations were familial. Pain at age 12 and 13 was mostly environmental (A = 0–12%, C = 15–30%, E = 70–73%) and the twin models suggested that associations with psychopathology were primarily due to shared environmental correlations. The exception was externalizing, which had a phenotypic prospective effect on pain, a significant within-family component, and a non-shared environmental correlation at age 12. Environmental risk factors may play a role in pain-psychopathology co-occurrence. Future studies can examine risk factors such as stressful life events.

Behavior Genetics