A pilot study of the use of guided imagery for the treatment of recurrent abdominal pain in children

Thomas M. Ball, Daniel E. Shapiro, Cynthia J. Monheim, Joy A. Weydert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Scopus citations


Few effective therapies are available for children with recurrent abdominal pain (RAP). Relaxation and guided imagery have been shown to impact the autonomic nervous system, which is altered in patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders. Ten children with RAP were enrolled in the study after evaluation by a pediatric gastroenterologist. They were trained in relaxation and guided imagery during 4 weekly 50-minute sessions. Pain diaries were completed at 0, 1, and 2 months. Children and parents also completed psychological questionnaires at enrollment. Although refractory to conventional treatment by their physician and pediatric gastroenterologist, the children experienced a 67% decrease in pain during the therapy (chi-square for trend, p<0.001). No baseline psychological characteristics impacted the response to therapy. The use of relaxation along with guided imagery is an effective and safe treatment for childhood RAP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)527-532
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Pediatrics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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