Guided Imagery Program Can Help Ease Children's Belly Pain

Audio program found to be helpful addition to standard care for functional abdominal pain

MONDAY, Oct. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Adding a home-based guided imagery program to standard medical care was found to more effectively treat functional abdominal pain in children than medical care alone, according to research published online Oct. 12 in Pediatrics.

Miranda A.L. van Tilburg, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues analyzed data from 34 children, ages 6 to 15 years, with a diagnosis of functional abdominal pain. Children were randomized to receive standard medical care plus a regular guided imagery program -- utilizing video and audio recordings -- for eight weeks, or receive only standard medical care followed by the program after eight weeks.

The researchers found that compliance with the program was high (98.5 percent). In intention-to-treat analysis, more in the guided imagery group than the standard medical care group were treatment responders (63.1 versus 26.7 percent). Treatment response was defined as at least a 50-percent reduction in abdominal pain score. When the standard care group received the program, 61.5 percent became treatment responders. At six months, 62.5 percent of the pooled sample remained responders.

"Home-based treatments of this kind are not meant to replace traditional care but can be offered as an adjunct to medical treatment. Patients who do not respond to the home-based treatment may benefit from referral to a therapist for an individualized treatment plan," the authors write.

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