A psychological intervention for pediatric chest pain: development and open trial

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2011 Feb-Mar;32(2):153-7. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e318206d5aa.


Objective: Noncardiac chest pain (NCCP) is a common and persistent problem for children and adolescents; typically there is no clear medical cause. To date, no psychological intervention has been studied for chest pain in a pediatric sample.

Methods: (a) We developed a brief psychological treatment for chest pain and associated worry in children and adolescents with NCCP. This program includes psychoeducation, breathing retraining, cognitive coping strategies, and 1 session of parent education and coaching regarding the impact of reinforcement on pain and coping behaviors. (b) We treated 9 youngsters with chronic NCCP, assessing pain, somatization, disability, anxiety and depressive symptoms, and coping. Assessments were conducted before, after, and 6 months following treatment.

Results: After treatment, there was a significant decrease in chest pain and somatization. Benefits were maintained at 6-month follow-up. There was no decrease in associated psychological symptoms.

Conclusions: A brief psychological treatment for pediatric NCCP is feasible to administer and may help alleviate symptoms of pediatric NCCP. Further study in a randomized trial is needed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Chest Pain / therapy*
  • Child
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / therapy*
  • Psychotherapy, Brief*
  • United States