Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be effective for children with functional abdominal pain (JAMA Pediatr 2013; 167: 178-84). Thanks to Ben Gold for this reference.
This prospective, randomized study recruited 200 children and their parents. One group of child-parent dyads received ‘social learning and cognitive behavioral therapy’ (SLCBT) and the other group ‘education and support’ (ES). Over the course of a year, children in the SLCBT group reported greater baseline decreases in gastrointestinal symptom severity and better pain-coping responses. Parents in the SLCBT group reported greater decreases in ‘solicitous responses’ to their child’s symptoms along with decrease in maladaptive beliefs regarding their child’s pain.
The intervention in the SLCBT group was three 1-hour sessions approximately 1 week apart in which parents were taught social learning strategies 1) to reduce ‘solicitous responses’ to illness behavior, and 2) to model /reinforce healthier ways to respond to gastrointestinal discomfort. Then, assessments were made at 1 week, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months.
This study shows that CBT can be effective for functional abdominal pain, if you can find skilled therapist and families willing to participate.
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