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December 1977

Recurrent Abdominal Pain: Gaining Control of the Symptom

Author Affiliations

From the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic, Division of Child Psychiatry, and Children's Hospital, Department of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia.

Am J Dis Child. 1977;131(12):1340-1344. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1977.02120250022002

• The treatment of recurrent abdominal pain without organic cause requires that the families involved change their focus from organic to emotional issues. This is done during a family conference with the pediatrician, in which a positive approach to the problem is outlined.

Following such a plan avoids the pitfalls of continuing an inappropriate and organically oriented response to the family's needs and also avoids threatening the family with emotionally charged personal needs too soon. When the transition period is successfully negotiated, the child's symptoms often are alleviated without further psychological intervention. In cases where further psychiatric intervention is indicated, a foundation has been laid for successful treatment.

Nineteen patients have been successfully treated either by the pediatrician alone or have successfully begun psychotherapy, thus preventing unnecessary medical tests and further "doctor shopping," which characteristically accompanies such cases.

(Am J Dis Child 131:1340-1344, 1977)