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Pediatric Grant Funds Study on Abdominal Pain, Effectiveness of Pain Education Intervention

Nov. 20, 2023

A newly developed pediatric research grant sponsored by the Department of Pediatrics at Dell Medical School and Dell Children’s Medical Center was awarded recently to advance research and improve pediatric care.

David Heckler, Ph.D, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Anees Siddiqui, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics, and UT graduate student Cinthia Alvarado were awarded funding to support their project on abdominal pain. The research will examine the effectiveness of a pain education intervention for children ages 8 to 17 years old with abdominal pain at the gastroenterology clinic of Dell Children’s and evaluate the extent to which children experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Currently, abdominal pain disorders are common in children and adolescents and can have a significant impact on their quality of life. Pain education, which includes explaining pain science and teaching about different conditions affecting pain, may be effective in improving pain beliefs, coping strategies and health status in children with abdominal pain. 

Additionally, children with chronic pain are more likely to have experienced psychological trauma than the general population. Their trauma may contribute to developing abdominal pain and other clinical problems, such as disability and psychological impairment. 

To expand the current understanding of pain education as an intervention for children, researchers will involve parents and children to participate as dyads in pain education sessions and interviews, along with pre- and post-evaluations as part of the study to assess the presence and intensity of PTSD symptoms alongside their abdominal pain experience. 

We are proud to have this team improving the care of our pediatric patients through research and evidence-based practices. Improving gastrointestinal pain coping strategies, providing pain educational sessions and gaining insight on PTSD effects on brain-gut interactions all have significant impacts on the children and families whom we serve at Dell Med and Dell Children’s. We look forward to bringing you the results of this research study in the future.