Background: Chronic abdominal pain (CAP) in childhood is widely prevalent and has adverse effects on mental health and quality of life. Earlier research emphasized the positive effects of psychological intervention on pain symptoms. This study describes the results of a cognitive-behavioral pain management program for children with CAP. The newly developed cognitive-behavioral group program, "Stop the pain with Happy-Pingu," includes six sessions for the children and one meeting for the parents.
Purpose: We hypothesized that the training would significantly reduce pain symptoms (frequency, duration, intensity, and pain-related impairment) and increase health-related quality of life compared to wait-list controls, with improvement seen both at the end of treatment and at a 3-month follow-up.
Method: In all, 29 children were randomized into two groups: 15 in the intervention group (IG) and 14 as the wait-list controls (WLC). An intent-to-treat analysis was performed using two-factorial multivariate analyses of variance with repeated measures.
Results: Children in the IG experienced both a reduction in pain (primary outcome) and an improvement in health-related quality of life (secondary outcome) as compared to the WLC. The effect sizes ranged from medium to high.
Conclusion: Cognitive-behavioral methods seem to be appropriate for treating children with CAP.