Aim: First, to what extent do general paediatric outpatients with functional abdominal pain experience other somatic and mental health symptoms compared with children in a population-based sample? Second, to what extent are such symptoms in both patients and their mothers associated with persistent child abdominal pain and functional disability?
Methods: Ninety-four referred patients [mean age (SD) 11.1 (1.9) years, 62% girls] were assessed by questionnaires and a paediatric consultation at baseline and at follow-up after 6-9 months (94% follow-up participation). At baseline, somatic and mental health symptoms in the patients were compared with a population-based sample of 14,000 school children. Outcome at follow-up was patient self-reported abdominal pain and disability. Prognostic factors explored included patient and maternal somatic and mental health symptoms.
Results: The patients experienced significantly more somatic [e.g. headache (OR: 9.2; 95% CI: 5.9-14.6)] and emotional symptoms than the school children. Patient's older age and peer problems at baseline were significantly associated with more abdominal pain at follow-up, whereas patient's older age, emotional symptoms, prosocial behaviour and maternal somatic symptoms were associated with disability.
Conclusion: Our results highlight the importance of focusing wider than just the patient's symptoms of abdominal pain in clinical practice and research.
© 2011 The Author(s)/Acta Paediatrica © 2011 Foundation Acta Paediatrica.