The aim of this study is to assess the influence of functional abdominal complaints (FAC) on health-related quality of life in a group of Dutch pre-school children.
Parents of children aged up to 6.0 visiting the outpatient pediatric department, Erasmus MC-Sophia, Rotterdam, The Netherlands in the period January 2005–December 2006 for functional abdominal complaints during at least 3 months were asked to complete the Infant/Toddler Quality of life Questionnaire (ITQOL), and questions of the abdominal pain index for use by parents to report pain symptoms in pre-school children. ITQOL scale scores of children with FAC were compared against with Dutch reference values. The abdominal pain index was tested for internal consistency and test–retest reliability. Correlations between ITQOL scale scores and abdominal pain index were assessed by Spearman’s rank test.
Results are based on 81 questionnaires completed by parents of children with FAC (response rate 61%). Children had a median age of 46 months (interquartile range 27–59), 48% girls. A significant impact was observed on most aspects of quality of life, particularly for physical functioning, general development, bodily pain, temperament and moods, general health perceptions and parental emotional impact. Parents of children with functional constipation tended to report lower scores than those of children with other FAC. The abdominal pain index appeared to be valid and was significantly correlated with ITQOL scales bodily pain and general health perceptions.
A substantial lower health-related quality of life is reported in pre-school children with functional abdominal complaints, with effects on physical, emotional and parental domains. The 5-question severity index of abdominal pain appeared a valid tool and may be helpful to quickly assess the severity of abdominal pain in clinical practice.