Executive Function and Attention Regulation as Predictors of Coping Success in Youth with Functional Abdominal Pain

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Objective To examine the role of executive function and attention regulation in coping and their indirect effects on anxiety and depression through coping in youth with functional abdominal pain. Methods Participants (n = 44, mean age = 11.77, SD = 7.16, 68.2% female) and their accompanying caregivers completed measures of executive function, attention regulation, coping, anxiety, and depression during scheduled clinic appointments at a tertiary pediatric medical center. Results Regression analyses revealed significant relations between selective attention abilities and two different approaches to coping with the stressor of abdominal pain episodes. Bootstrapping procedures for mediation provided evidence for the indirect effects of selective attention and attentional control on anxiety through cognitive coping strategies. Conclusions Attention regulation may be an important factor that contributes to the variability in outcomes in youth with functional abdominal pain and should be considered when assessing the coping and psychological adjustment of this population.

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