Objective. To investigate the course of mental health problems in children presenting to general practice with abdominal pain and to evaluate the extent to which abdominal pain characteristics during follow-up predict the presence of mental health problems at 12 months' follow-up. Design. A prospective cohort study with one-year follow-up. Setting. 53 general practices in the Netherlands, between May 2004 and March 2006. Subjects. 281 children aged 4-17 years. Main outcome measures. The presence of a depressive problem, an anxiety problem, and multiple non-specific somatic symptoms at follow-up and odds ratios of duration, frequency, and severity of abdominal pain with these mental health problems at follow-up. Results. A depressive problem persisted in 24/74 children (32.9%; 95% CI 22.3-44.9%), an anxiety problem in 13/43 (30.2%; 95% CI 17.2-46.1%) and the presence of multiple non-specific somatic symptoms in 75/170 children (44.1%; 95% CI 36.7-51.6%). None of the abdominal pain characteristics predicted a depressive or an anxiety problem at 12 months' follow-up. More moments of moderate to severe abdominal pain predicted the presence of multiple non-specific somatic symptoms at follow-up. Conclusions. In one-third of the children presenting to general practice for abdominal pain, anxiety and depressive problems persist during one year of follow-up. Characteristics of the abdominal pain during the follow-up period do not predict anxiety or depressive problems after one-year follow-up. We recommend following over time children seen in primary care with abdominal pain.

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doi.org/10.3109/02813432.2012.675561, hdl.handle.net/1765/67503
Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care
Department of Medical Psychology and Psychotherapy