A Pilot Study of “Gutstrong” for Adolescents With Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

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The objective of this study was to provide preliminary findings of efficacy and acceptability for “Gutstrong,” a minimal contact cognitive–behavioral treatment program being developed for adolescents with functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs). Twenty adolescents (13 to 17 years) presenting for initial subspecialty evaluation of chronic abdominal pain were randomized to receive (a) standard medical care only or (b) standard medical care plus “Gutstrong.” Adolescents completing “Gutstrong” self-reported decreased frequency of pain episodes, increased health-related quality of life and percentage of pain-free days, and improvements in adaptive coping compared with the control group. “Gutstrong” was rated as helpful, informative, and acceptable, with minor improvements suggested. “Gutstrong” has the potential to be a beneficial adjunct to standard medical care for adolescents with FGIDs. The efficacy, appeal, and cost-effectiveness of this program warrant further evaluation as part of a large-scale clinical trial. Application to other age groups and patient populations also should be considered in future steps.

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