Effects of psychological treatment on recurrent abdominal pain in children - a meta-analysis

Clin Psychol Rev. 2011 Nov;31(7):1192-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2011.07.010. Epub 2011 Aug 2.


Recurrent abdominal pain in children has a high prevalence, thought to be about 10%. Untreated, there is a high risk that the symptoms become chronic and may lead in some cases to co-morbid mental disorders. Evidence-based treatments are therefore urgently needed. The objective of this study was to examine the effectiveness of psychological therapies for pain reduction in children with recurrent abdominal pain (RAP) by a meta-analysis of intervention studies. Ten controlled studies fulfilling minimum methodical criteria were included. The results of the analysis showed that psychological therapies, mainly cognitive-behavioural, have a moderate effect on the reduction of pain in children with RAP. After analysing homogeneity and significance with the fixed effect model, the medium effect size, calculated with Hedges g, was 0.58 (σ=0.16), demonstrating highly significant (p<.01) effects. The study showed that psychological therapies are effective in treating children with chronic abdominal pain. The empirical basis in this field needs to be broadened.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / psychology
  • Abdominal Pain / therapy*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Recurrence
  • Treatment Outcome