- Emotion awareness and coping in children with functional abdominal pain: A controlled study
- Social Science & Medicine
- Volume | Issue number
- 74 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
Faculty of Medicine (AMC-UvA)
- Research Institute of Child Development and Education (RICDE)
Literature on somatization suggests that patients suffering from medically unexplained symptoms are less aware of their emotions and use maladaptive coping strategies when coping with everyday problems. In addition, coping is hypothesized to mediate between emotion awareness and medically unexplained symptoms. Scientific evidence for the relevance of this hypothesis for children with functional abdominal pain (FAP) is, however, lacking. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to investigate this hypothesis in Dutch children with functional abdominal pain (FAP), aged 7-18 years. Between April 2007 and April 2010, a total of 114 referred children with FAP, 235 schoolchildren without abdominal pain and 407 schoolchildren with some abdominal pain (AP) of diverse etiology filled out questionnaires concerning their pain, emotion awareness and coping. MANOVA was used to investigate group differences in emotional awareness and coping. Structural equation modeling was used to investigate the mediational role of coping. The results showed that children with FAP scored significantly lower on most aspects of emotion awareness than children without AP, although these differences were small. Contrary to expectations, children with FAP were more aware of a link between emotions and bodily sensations than children without AP. As for coping, we found that children with FAP used avoidant coping more often than children without AP. Overall, children with FAP mostly did not differ in their emotional awareness and coping compared to children with some AP. Problem focused coping had a small mediating effect for two aspects of emotion awareness. We conclude that children with FAP show only small differences in emotion awareness and coping compared to children without AP, and are practically no different from children with some AP. Contrary to common belief, it can be questioned whether emotion awareness and general coping are useful targets for psychological treatments of FAP to focus on.
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