Abdominal pain in British young people: Associations, impairment and health care use

Mar Vila, Tami Kramer, Jordi E. Obiols, M. Elena Garralda

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To assess the frequency and associations of abdominal pain in a sample of British secondary school young people and to examine predictors of impairment and health care use. Methods: Cross-sectional study of young people aged 11-16. years that completed questionnaires documenting abdominal pain, related impairment and health care consultations. They also provided information detailing other physical symptoms, health problems and mental health status. Results: 1173 students completed questionnaires; 598 (53%) reported abdominal pains in the previous 3. months (15% >. once a week). Pains were significantly linked to reporting medical illness, to high levels of a broad range of physical symptoms and with students deeming these symptoms to be stress/mood sensitive. They were also linked to depressive and other emotional and behavioural problems and with medical help seeking (seeing a health professional in the previous year and contact ever with mental health practitioners). Considerable impairment was reported by 36%; this was independently predicted by abdominal pain frequency, higher levels of concurrent physical symptoms and symptom stress/mood sensitivity. In 18% of students the abdominal pains had led to medical consultations; this was independently predicted by pain related impairment. Conclusions: Frequent abdominal pains are common in British secondary school adolescents; they are linked to emotional symptoms and are often impairing and lead to medical consultations. Impairment was associated not only to pain frequency but also to reporting other physical symptoms and symptom stress/mood sensitivity, and impairment was a strong predictor of medical help seeking. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-442
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012


  • Abdominal pain
  • Adolescents
  • Children
  • Impairment
  • RAP
  • Somatic symptoms


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