Issues and purpose: Review the etiology and pathophysiology of recurrent abdominal pain (RAP) and its potential role as a precursor to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in adults.
Conclusions: Physiological mechanisms not easily identifiable as an organic cause may underlie symptoms in RAP patients. They may be triggered by psychosocial factors that result in greater functional disability, more clinic visits, and lower academic and social competence. Of these children, 25% will experience similar symptoms as adults; many will be diagnosed with IBS.
Practice implications: Nurses can provide early and efficient management of these children's care if they view the issues of abdominal pain/discomfort from a broader focus that includes the context of the child's experiences.