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Systematic review with meta-analysis
Psychological therapies help reduce headache and non-headache pain in children and adolescents
  1. Johan W S Vlaeyen1,2,
  2. Rena Gatzounis1,2
  1. 1Research Group Health Psychology, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  2. 2Department of Clinical Psychological Science, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Johan WS Vlaeyen, Psychological Institute, KU Leuven, Tiensestraat 102, Leuven 3000, Belgium; johan.vlaeyen{at}

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Commentary on: OpenUrlPubMed


Chronic and recurrent pain, especially in the head, abdomen and limbs affects up to 30% of children and adolescents.1 Pain can be severely disabling, disrupting school and social activities and if left untreated, may extend towards adulthood. Increasing evidence shows that psychological factors are pivotal in the transition from acute to chronic disabling pain. As a result, psychological interventions have been developed to modify the emotional, cognitive and behavioural processes that are considered to maintain pain, disability and distress. Psychological interventions initially designed for adults have been modified and applied to paediatric patients. These include behavioural (eg, relaxation training, biofeedback, operant management) and cognitive treatments (eg, cognitive coping skills training, guided imagery, stress management), or combinations of these. Although previous reviews have documented the effectiveness of psychological treatment for chronic pain in youth, …

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  • Contributors JWSV started with the commentary and RG provided the additional comments.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.