The goal of our research in this revised application is to identify individual differences in pediatric functional abdominal pain (FAP) that predict differential health outcomes in response to an intervention and can be used to further tailor interventions for FAP. FAP is among the most common pain problems in childhood and prospectively predicts risk for chronic pain, disability, and frequent health service utilization (HSU) in early adulthood. Therefore, providing effective treatments of FAP is a critical public health concern. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) delivered by highly trained professionals in face-to-face sessions has been found to reduce pain in some FAP patients, but such intensive resources are not generally available to most FAP patients. The proposed study will evaluate an alternative approach to treating FAP. The study integrates and extends recent work by leading investigators in pediatric pain. In a prospective natural history study of pediatric onset FAP patients followed into late adolescence/early adulthood, PI Walker and colleagues identified three distinct patient profiles (i.e., Low Pain Adaptive, High Pain Adaptive, High Pain Dysfunctional) comprised of pain severity, pain cognitions, and affect at the time of the initial FAP evaluation in childhood. These pain profiles predicted chronic pain and disability at follow-up (FU) nearly a decade later. Patients with the High Pain Dysfunctional profile at baseline had the poorest symptom outcomes and also exhibited pro-nociceptive central pain modulation in laboratory pain tests at FU. The heterogeneity of the FAP pain profile groups suggests that they may differ in treatment needs and in the extent to which they benefit from behavioral interventions. Co- Investigator Palermo developed and tested a CBT intervention (Web-based Management of Adolescent Pain; Web-MAP) for youth with various chronic pain conditions. This efficient, easily disseminated treatment includes separate modules delivered online to youth and parents. WebMAP Online CBT significantly reduced youths' pain and disability in comparison to a usual care, wait-list control condition. The current proposal merges these lines of research into an innovative study that will, for the first time:
(Aim 1) administer Online CBT adapted specifically for FAP and evaluate its efficacy compared to an Online Information, attention control condition;
(Aim 2) evaluate baseline moderators of treatment response, including our previously validated FAP pain profiles, pro-nociceptive central pain modulation, and parent characteristics (protectiveness, modeling pain behavior, catastrophizing about the child's pain);
and (Aim 3) evaluate potential mediators of the effect of Online CBT on health outcomes. Following medical evaluation, FAP patients (n = 300) ages 11-17 years and their parents will be randomized to Online CBT or Online Information. Assessments will be at baseline, mid- and post-treatment, and at 6- and 12-months post baseline. The study will produce knowledge that can be used to more efficiently target interventions to FAP patients according to their individual profiles and thereby extend evidence-based care to more patients and ultimately reduce overall costs of care.

Public Health Relevance

Functional abdominal pain (FAP), a pediatric pain condition without significant organic pathology, is a precursor to chronic pain and high healthcare utilization in young adulthood. This project aims to identify child and family characteristics that predict differential responses to a Cognitive Behavior Therapy intervention administered online to patients with FAP and their parents. The goal is to acquire scientific knowledge to guide individualized treatment of patients with FAP.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Psychosocial Risk and Disease Prevention Study Section (PRDP)
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Haverkos, Lynne
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Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Morris, Matthew C; Walker, Lynn S; Bruehl, Stephen et al. (2016) Impaired conditioned pain modulation in youth with functional abdominal pain. Pain 157:2375-81