1Scuola di Specializzazione in Pediatria, Università di Ferrara
2UOC di Pediatria, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria “Sant’Anna”, Ferrara
3UOC di Pediatria e Neonatologia, Ospedale di Ravenna, AUSL della Romagna
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Key words: Somatic symptom disorder, Children, Prevalence, Clinical features, Paediatric management
Background - Somatic symptom disorders (SSD) and related disorders are a frequent
problem in paediatric age that can compromise the quality of life and cause a remarkable
burden for the caregiver.
Objectives - This study analysed the epidemiological data, demographic and clinical features, managing appropriateness and efficacy of an Italian population of paediatric patients who were hospitalised for SSD, with clinical diagnosis based on the DSM-5.
Results - The admissions for SSD were 0.9%. Paediatric SSD patients were more frequently Italian females, with a mean age of 11.7 years. Children/adolescents’ symptoms usually persisted for a long time, with multiple symptoms and school absenteeism. Their clinical history showed multiple health care interventions and non-resolutive therapies, the frequent comorbidity with psychiatric disorders and, rarely, organic diseases. Their hospital management showed many “organic” diagnostic-therapeutic interventions. A specific neuropsychiatric or psychological treatment was started only in 51% cases with a discharge diagnosis ascribable to SSD only in one third of cases.
Conclusions - Paediatricians have to suspect SSD early to limit unnecessary examinations and treatments and to assure a prompt and efficacious neuropsychiatric and/or psychological treatment.
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