Medical evaluation of children with chronic abdominal pain: impact of diagnosis, physician practice orientation, and maternal trait anxiety on mothers' responses to the evaluation.

Williams SE, Smith CA, Bruehl SP, Gigante J, Walker LS
Pain. 2009 146 (3): 283-92

PMID: 19767148 · PMCID: PMC2783280 · DOI:10.1016/j.pain.2009.07.039

This study examined the effects of diagnosis (functional versus organic), physician practice orientation (biomedical versus biopsychosocial), and maternal trait anxiety (high versus low) on mothers' responses to a child's medical evaluation for chronic abdominal pain. Mothers selected for high (n=80) and low (n=80) trait anxiety imagined that they were the mother of a child with chronic abdominal pain described in a vignette. They completed questionnaires assessing their negative affect and pain catastrophizing. Next, mothers were randomly assigned to view one of four video vignettes of a physician-actor reporting results of the child's medical evaluation. Vignettes varied by diagnosis (functional versus organic) and physician practice orientation (biomedical versus biopsychosocial). Following presentation of the vignettes, baseline questionnaires were re-administered and mothers rated their satisfaction with the physician. Results indicated that mothers in all conditions reported reduced distress pre- to post-vignette; however, the degree of the reduction differed as a function of diagnosis, presentation, and anxiety. Mothers reported more post-vignette negative affect, pain catastrophizing, and dissatisfaction with the physician when the physician presented a functional rather than an organic diagnosis. These effects were significantly greater for mothers with high trait anxiety who received a functional diagnosis presented by a physician with a biomedical orientation than for mothers in any other condition. Anxious mothers of children evaluated for chronic abdominal pain may be less distressed and more satisfied when a functional diagnosis is delivered by a physician with a biopsychosocial rather than a biomedical orientation.

MeSH Terms (17)

Abdominal Pain Adolescent Adult Anxiety Attitude of Health Personnel Child Chronic Disease Female Humans Male Middle Aged Mothers Pain Measurement Patient Satisfaction Physicians Psychiatric Status Rating Scales Reproducibility of Results

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