Background: Abdominal pain in children is a common complaint presented to the GP. However, the prognosis and prognostic factors of childhood abdominal pain are almost exclusively studied in referred children. This cohort study aims at describing prognosis and prognostic factors of childhood abdominal pain in primary care. In this paper we describe methods used for data-collection and determine possible selective recruitment.
Methods/design: We conducted an observational, prospective cohort study with a 1-year follow-up. From May 2004 to March 2006, 53 Dutch GPs recruited consecutive children aged 4-17 years with a new episode of abdominal pain not preceded by a consultation for this complaint in the previous 3 months. Participants filled in standardized questionnaires, and faeces and urine were sampled. To evaluate selective recruitment, the electronic medical records of participating GPs were retrospectively searched for eligible non-included children.
Discussion: This study allows us to describe prognosis and prognostic factors of childhood abdominal pain in primary care. A total of 305 children were included of whom 142 (46.6%) met predefined criteria for chronic/recurrent abdominal pain at presentation; from the total group of eligible children identified from the electronic medical record, 27% were included. The included children were significantly younger than non-included children (mean age 8.49 and 9.20 years). In proportion to identified eligible children, significantly less children diagnosed with "gastroenteritis" (6.8%) and significantly more children with "generalized abdominal pain" (39%) were included compared to the 27% that was expected. This cohort represents young school-aged children consulting GPs for a new episode of abdominal pain, not diagnosed as gastroenteritis. Almost half of them fulfil the criteria for chronic abdominal pain at presentation.