Objective: To investigate whether the combination of standard medical care (SMC) and short-term cognitive-behavioral family treatment (CBT) in the treatment of recurrent abdominal pain (RAP) was more effective than SMC alone.
Methods: Children recently diagnosed with RAP via physician examination were randomized into SMC (n = 29) and SMC plus CBT (n = 40) groups. Outcome measures included multiple dimensions of child and parent reported child pain, somatization, and functional disability, and school absences and physician contacts.
Results: Children and parents participating in the combined SMC + CBT intervention reported significantly less child and parent reported child abdominal pain than children in the SMC intervention immediately following the intervention and up to 1 year following study entry, as well as significantly fewer school absences. Significant differences in functional disability and somatization were not revealed.
Conclusions: These results, in combination with previous studies, add support to the effectiveness of CBT intervention in reducing the sensory aspects of RAP. Results are discussed with respect to the cost-benefit of integrated medical and short-term psychological services.