Treatment of recurrent abdominal pain: components analysis of four treatment protocols

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2000 Jul;31(1):47-51. doi: 10.1097/00005176-200007000-00011.


Background: Recurrent abdominal pain (RAP) affects up to 34% of the world's population of children. Medical management has been limited, but behavioral strategies have been shown to be effective. In this study several components of published treatment protocols were adapted and/or improved and then compared using a pretest-posttest control group design.

Methods: Sixty-four children and teenagers (mean age, 9.75 +/- 2.46 years) with diagnosed recurrent abdominal pain were randomly assigned to four groups: 1) fiber-only comparison group; 2) fiber and biofeedback-assisted cultivated low arousal; 3) fiber, biofeedback, and cognitive-behavioral interventions; and 4) fiber, biofeedback, cognitive-behavioral, and parental support. Participants were treated over 8 weeks in individual sessions. Biofeedback was supplied using small thermal devices.

Results: All groups showed improvement in self-reported pain, even the fiber-only comparison group; however, the active treatment groups showed significantly more improvement before and after than the fiber-only comparison group (fiber only comparison group pain reduction at 79%; fiber and biofeedback at 100%; fiber, biofeedback, and cognitive-behavioral at 94%; fiber, biofeedback, cognitive-behavioral, and parental support at 93%).

Conclusions: This suggests that any of the active treatment protocols assessed in this investigation work better than established treatments that have been reported in the literature. Because the addition of cognitive and parental support components did not seem to increase treatment effectiveness, it is concluded that increased fiber with biofeedback-assisted cultivated low arousal was effective and efficient as a treatment modality.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / psychology
  • Abdominal Pain / therapy*
  • Adolescent
  • Biofeedback, Psychology / methods*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Dietary Fiber / therapeutic use*
  • Family Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain Measurement
  • Recurrence
  • Treatment Outcome