Paediatric chronic conditions, e.g., chronic pain and functional gastrointestinal disorders, are commonly diagnosed, with fatigue, pain and abdominal discomfort the most frequently reported symptoms across conditions. Regardless of whether symptoms are connected to an underlying medical diagnosis or not, they are often associated with an increased experience of psychological distress by both the ill child and their parents. While pain and embarrassing symptoms can induce increased distress, evidence is also accumulating in support of a reciprocal relationship between pain and distress. This reciprocal relationship is nicely illustrated in the fear avoidance model of pain, which has recently been found to be applicable to childhood pain experiences. The purpose of this article is to illustrate how mind (i.e., emotions) and body (i.e., physical symptoms) interact using chronic pain and gastrointestinal disorders as key examples. Despite the evidence for the connection between mind and body, the mind-body split is still a dominant position for families and health care systems, as evidenced by the artificial split between physical and mental health care. In a mission to overcome this gap, this article will conclude by providing tools on how the highlighted evidence can help to close this gap between mind and body.
Keywords: distress; mind-body split; pain.