Quality of Life Research

, Volume 27, Issue 10, pp 2557–2570 | Cite as

Quality of life among parents seeking treatment for their child’s functional abdominal pain

  • Claudia Calvano
  • Petra Warschburger



Dealing with a child who suffers from functional abdominal pain (FAP) is a major challenge for the child’s parents. However, little is known about the quality of life (QoL) of this group of parents. Therefore, this cross-sectional study aimed to provide a comprehensive analysis of parental QoL among parents seeking treatment for their child’s abdominal pain.


133 parents of 7–13-year-old children diagnosed with FAP reported on their health-related QoL (HRQoL), as assessed by the SF-12, and on caregiver-related QoL, as assessed by two CHQ-PF50 scales (emotional impact, time impact). T tests were used to compare the parents’ scores on these measures with reference scores. Subgroups which were at risk of impairment were defined by cut-off scores. Determinants of parental QoL were identified by hierarchical regression analyses.


While the parents showed significantly poorer mental health compared to population-based reference samples (d = 0.33–0.58), their physical health did not differ. However, parents were severely strained with respect to the time impact and emotional impact of their child’s health (d = 0.33–1.58). While 12.7–27.9% of the parents were at risk of poor HRQoL, 60.6–70.1% were highly strained due to the demands of their role as caregivers. Physical and mental health were best explained by parents’ psychiatric symptoms, while parents’ perception of their child’s impairment additionally determined the high time and emotional impact.


Physical HRQoL is not impaired in the majority of parents seeking treatment for their child’s functional abdominal pain. However, the time demands and worries due to the child’s pain deserve specific attention. Psychosocial interventions for a child’s FAP should include information provided to the parents about coping with time constraints and emotional impact. Further prospective studies are warranted.


Quality of life Parents SF-12 CHQ-PF50 Functional abdominal pain 



We wish to thank the study site investigators for their collaboration: Carsten Posovszky (MD, Ulm), Sebastian Becker (MD, Darmstadt), Friedrich Ebinger (MD, Paderborn), Thomas Lehmler (MD, Paderborn), Henning Lenhartz (MD; Hamburg), Enno Iven (MD, Hamburg), Christian Hudert (MD, Berlin), and Sibylle Winter (MD, Berlin). We are also grateful to the study nurses for their commitment to the research, and in particular, to all families for their participation.


This study was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)—Grant WA-1143/9-1.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures were performed in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department Psychology, Counseling PsychologyUniversity of PotsdamPotsdamGermany

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