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Imaging circles of engagement: Neural correlates of parent empathic distress in the context of chronic pain

Objective

Chronic pain affects the lives of over a quarter of adolescents world-wide. For a parent to see their child suffering is particularly distressing. Not surprisingly, parents of children with chronic pain are more likely to suffer from stress, anxiety, or depressive symptoms. Vice versa, parent responses can powerfully modulate (i.e., mitigate or magnify) their child’s pain-related functioning. A key, so far neglected, variable may be parent empathic distress, hindering the parents’ ability to respond in ways to promote the child’s functioning. The neural mechanisms underlying parent empathic distress and its impact have not been studied before and will be the main focus of this proposal. I hypothesize that parents’ empathic distress triggered by observing their child’s pain is of key importance for understanding parent-child interactions in the context of paediatric pain and that identifying the driving mechanisms will provide novel points for parent-targeted treatments.
PARENT_EMPATHY is a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study and will recruit parent-child dyads in which the child has chronic pain via the Pediatric Pain Management Clinic at Stanford’s Children’s Health. Using an empathy paradigm, I will define the physiological and neural correlates of parent empathic distress in response to observing their own child’s pain (facial expressions combined with autobiographical vignettes). Further, I will examine the contribution of parent empathic distress to individual differences in parent pain-related behavior as well as in the child’s pain-related functioning.
This MSCA will enable me to carry out my independent project with the Biobehavioral Pediatric Pain (BPP) lab at Stanford University, reinforcing my scientific maturity. Working in this inspiring and successful environment with ample opportunities to enjoy superb training programs will boost my professional, scientific and personal development, and will greatly enhance my career possibilities.
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Coordinator

UNIVERSITEIT MAASTRICHT

Address

Minderbroedersberg 4-6
6200 Md Maastricht

Netherlands

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 170 419,20

Partners (1)

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BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE LELAND STANFORD JUNIOR UNIVERSITY

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 841426

Status

Grant agreement signed

  • Start date

    1 January 2020

  • End date

    31 December 2021

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.3.2.

  • Overall budget:

    € 170 419,20

  • EU contribution

    € 170 419,20

Coordinated by:

UNIVERSITEIT MAASTRICHT

Netherlands