Long-term outcomes of children with severe chronic pain: Comparison of former patients with a community sample.
Findings on the short- and long-term effectiveness of intensive interdisciplinary pain treatment (IIPT) for children with severe chronic functional pain are promising. However, a definitive appraisal of long-term effectiveness cannot be made due to a lack of comparison groups. The aim of the present study was to compare the health status of former patients with the health status of an age- and sex-matched comparison group from the community.Data from two samples, a clinical sample of former patients (n=162; aged 14 to 26) and an age- and sex-matched community sample (n=162), were analyzed. Former patients provided data seven years after IIPT. Pain characteristics, physical and mental health status, autonomy, coping and health care utilization were compared between the two samples.Seven years after treatment, the majority (58%) of the clinical sample were completely pain-free. Compared to the community sample, the clinical sample demonstrated worse physical and mental health and continued to seek more frequent health care, irrespective of whether or not they experienced ongoing chronic pain. However, the clinical sample reported better coping strategies and a comparable level of autonomy.Patients experiencing severe chronic pain in childhood who engage in IIPT are likely to have recovered from their pain in early adulthood. Long-term treatment effects may manifest in better coping strategies. However, reduced mental and physical health status may indicate a negative long-term effect of early chronic pain experiences or a general vulnerability in people developing a chronic pain condition in childhood.
Authors: Julia Wager, Ann-Kristin Ruhe, Lorin Stahlschmidt, Kathrin Leitsch, Benedikt B Claus, Winfried Häuser, Elmar Brähler, Andreas Dinkel, Rüya Kocalevent, Boris Zernikow