A recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine demonstrates that a brief cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) intervention effectively treats, in the long-term, children with functional abdominal pain and improves parent’s responses to the child’s pain. This recent study investigates a randomized sample of children with functional abdominal pain (n=200) and their parents at a follow up occurring 12 months after the initial treatment. The experimental group had received a social learning and CBT intervention (SLCBT) while the control group received an education and support (ES) treatment, both lasting three sessions. The children’s symptoms and pain-coping responses were examined using standard instruments. Initial baseline measurements were collected prior to treatment.
The results from the parent study were maintained at the 12-month follow-up. Children in the SLCBT intervention group showed greater baseline to 12 month reductions in symptom severity and greater improvements in pain-coping responses as compared to those in the ES group. Moreover, parents of the children in the SLCBT group showed greater baseline to 12 month decreases in their solicitous responses to their child’s symptoms and in their maladaptive beliefs regarding their child’s pain compared to parents with children in the control group.
These results indicate that a brief CBT intervention can provide significant improvements for children with functional abdominal pain and their parents in several areas including symptom severity, coping mechanisms, and parental response. The researchers suggest that future studies test whether a longer intervention would increase efficacy of symptom reduction and coping, or if perhaps a group intervention setting would be as effective, thus reducing cost and time.
Levy, R. L., Langer, S.L., Walker, L.S., Romano, J.M., Christie, D.L., Youssef, N., DuPen, M.M., Ballard, S.A., Labus, J., Welsh, E., Feld, L.D., & Whitehead, W.E. (2012). Twelve-Month Follow-up of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Children With Functional Abdominal Pain. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.