1IRCCS Materno-Infantile “Burlo Garofolo”, Trieste
2Dipartimento di Scienze Mediche, Chirurgiche e della Salute, Università di Trieste
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Key words: Emotional distress, Functional disability, Mental health disorder, Prognosis, Children, Adolescence
Functional and somatic disorders are common in childhood and can become long-lasting and disabling. This study showed a 6.9% prevalence of children with emotional distress and/or mental disorders among children admitted to a third level paediatric ward for physical symptoms. Most cases were characterised by long-lasting symptoms, “doctor shopping”, school absenteeism and functional disability. A psychiatric disorder, mostly an anxious-depressive status, was observed in 21% of cases. At a two-year followup, the symptoms and the disability were still present in 34% of cases in spite of a declared exclusion of any organic disease and the activation of a multidisciplinary therapeutic approach aimed to reduce symptoms and disability. Functional and somatic disorders are frequent in children admitted to hospital for physical complaints. The prognosis of these cases is still unacceptably poor. Paediatricians should improve their skills in facing this emerging problem.
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