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Psychological Screening for Youth with Abdominal Pain

Pediatrics; ePub 2018 Jul 25; Cunningham, et al

In youth with abdominal pain, systematic screening for anxiety, pain, and pain-related disability as a routine part of medical care can be reliably implemented, a recent study suggests. A screening process for patient-reported anxiety, functional disability, and pain levels was implemented in a large gastroenterology division within a major medical center. Quality improvement methods and traditional analytic approaches were used to test the feasibility and outcomes of routine screening in patients aged 8 to 18 years with abdominal pain. Researchers found:

  • Screening rates increased from < 1% to > 80%.
  • 1,291 patients who reported having abdominal pain completed the screening during the first 6 months.
  • Clinically significant anxiety (43.1%), at least moderate disability (45%), and elevated pain (61.5%) were common in children with abdominal pain.
  • The presence of clinically significant anxiety corresponded with higher pain and pain-related disability.
  • After project implementation, psychological referral rates increased from 8.3 per 1,000 patients to 15.2 per 1,000 patients.

Citation:

Cunningham NR, Moorman E, Brown CM, et al. Integrated psychological screening into medical care for youth with abdominal pain. [Published online ahead of print July 25, 2018]. Pediatrics. doi:10.1542/peds.2017-2876.

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