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Pediatric visits may hinge on mothers' mental health. (Abdominal Pain in Children).

PHOENIX, ARIZ. -- The mother's psychological symptoms, and not the child's, influence whether the child is brought to the physician for abdominal pain, Rona L. Levy Ph.D., reported at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society.

These findings are based on the results of a study of 296 children of 208 mothers with irritable bowel syndrome and 335 children of 241 mothers without irritable bowel syndrome. The average age of the children was 11.8 years, and 51% were female.

Of those 504 children, 323 reported abdominal pain within the previous 2 weeks. Fifty-eight of the children reporting abdominal pain were brought to the clinic for a medical consultation, and 265 were not, said Dr. Levy of the University of Washington, Seattle.

Several surveys were administered to the mothers and children. The mothers completed the Symptom Checklist-90-R subscales for somatization, anxiety and depression; the Child Behavior Checklist; and the Child Symptom Checklist. The children completed the Pain Beliefs and Perceptions Inventory.

The strongest predictors of whether a child was brought in for a consultation were the severity and frequency of the child's pain.

But after controlling for the child's pain, the investigators determined that the mother's psychological symptoms--not the child's--made an independent, significant contribution to the decision to consult a physician.

Dr. Levy concluded that treatment of children with recurrent abdominal pain must consider multiple family factors.

It's useful to do a thorough behavioral analysis of what happens when a child experiences abdominal pain.

Dr. Levy also suggested observing the mother's interaction with the child during the office visit.
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Article Details
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Author:Finn, Robert
Publication:Clinical Psychiatry News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2003
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