Background: Pediatric functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) are common and well-accepted to be etiologically complex in terms of the contribution of biological, psychological, and social factors to symptom presentations. Nonetheless, despite its documented benefits, interdisciplinary treatment, designed to address all of these factors, for pediatric FGIDs remains rare. The current study hypothesized that the majority of pediatric patients seen in an interdisciplinary abdominal pain clinic (APC) would demonstrate clinical resolution of symptoms during the study period and that specific psychosocial variables would be significantly predictive of GI symptom improvement.
Aim: To evaluate outcomes with interdisciplinary treatment in pediatric patients with pain-related FGIDs and identify patient characteristics that predicted clinical outcomes.
Methods: Participants were 392 children, ages 8-18 [M = 13.8; standard deviation (SD) = 2.7], seen between August 1, 2013 and June 15, 2016 in an interdisciplinary APC housed within the Division of Gastroenterology in a medium-sized Midwestern children's hospital. To be eligible, patients had to be 8 years of age or older and have had abdominal pain for ≥ 8 wk at the time of initial evaluation. Medical and psychosocial data collected as part of standard of care were retrospectively reviewed and analyzed in the context of the observational study. Logistic regression was used to model odds of reporting vs never reporting improvement, as well as to differentiate rapid from slower improvers.
Results: Nearly 70% of patients followed during the study period achieved resolution on at least one of the employed outcome indices. Among those who achieved resolution during follow up, 43% to 49% did so by the first follow up (i.e., within roughly 2 mo after initial evaluation and initiation of interdisciplinary treatment). Patient age, sleep, ease of relaxation, and depression all significantly predicted the likelihood of resolution. More specifically, the odds of clinical resolution were 14% to 16% lower per additional year of patient age (P < 0.001 to P = 0.016). The odds of resolution were 28% to 42% lower per 1-standard deviation (SD) increase on a pediatric sleep measure (P = 0.006 to P < 0.040). Additionally, odds of clinical resolution were 58% lower per 1-SD increase on parent-reported measure of depression (P = 0.006), and doubled in cases where parents agreed that their children found it easy to relax (P = 0.045). Furthermore, sleep predicted the rapidity of clinical resolution; that is, the odds of achieving resolution by the first follow up visit were 47% to 60% lower per 1-SD increase on the pediatric sleep measure (P = 0.002).
Conclusion: Outcomes for youth with FGIDs may be significantly improved by paying specific attention to sleep, ensuring adequate skills for relaxation, and screening of and referral for treatment of comorbid depression.
Keywords: Abdominal pain clinic; Behavioral health consultation; Integrated care; Pediatric functional gastrointestinal disorders; Treatment outcomes.