Living with chronic pain as a child increases the likelihood of experiencing anxiety as an adult, suggests new research from Pediatrics. Results from the study of 332 pediatric patients found those experiencing chronic stomach pain as a child were more likely to suffer from anxiety, especially social anxiety, as an adult. Researchers also found this group more likely to suffer from depression. The findings from this study suggest more psychosocial assessments for children with abdominal pain (perhaps any child experiencing chronic pain) are needed, as well as follow up mental health care if indicated.
As pediatric healthcare providers, taking a few extra minutes during your patients visits to check on their emotional well-being using a protocol like the DEF could help to expose any underlying fears and worries of the patient or their parent(s). By asking just a few simple questions, you may find your patient is coping well or may need a referral for additional mental health support. What are some questions you ask your patient to assess their mental and emotional health?