What NOT to say with functional pain

A recent article crossed my desk (from the “G-force”) which I hadn’t seen (or at least remembered).  So, although it is not new, it is a useful reference (Pain 2006; 122: 43-52).

In brief, the authors divided 223 children (n-104 with recurrent pain, n=119 healthy children) between ages 8-16 into 3 groups: attention, distraction, and no instruction.  After the children consumed water until they felt “completely full,” they were observed with their parents.  Parents in the attention and distraction groups had received video and written instructions; whereas the no instruction parents watched a video about the university.

Questions/statements that were typical in the attention group:

  • “I know it hurts now, but you’ll be OK later”
  • “What doe it feel like?”
  • “I can imagine it must feel really uncomfortable”

Questions/statements that were typical in the distraction group:

  • “Let’s talk about something else to get your mind off of it.  Tell me about ____”
  • “What would you like to do this evening?”

Key findings:

  1. Complaints nearly doubled under conditions of parent attention and were reduced by half under conditions of distraction (in comparison to the no instruction group).
  2. Female patients in this study had greater increase in pain complaints in the attention group than male patients.
  3. After water loading, children with a history of pain had significantly more complaints in the attention group than healthy children.
  4. “Unlike parents of well children, no parent of a pain patient rated attention as having any potential for negative impact on their child.”

Take home message (from Oscar Wilde -quoted in article): “While sympathy with joy intensifies the sum of joy in the world, sympathy with pain does not really diminish the amount of pain.”

Related blog post:

Anxiety and Functional Abdominal Pain | gutsandgrowth

1 thought on “What NOT to say with functional pain

  1. Pingback: Image Only: Living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome | gutsandgrowth

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