Somatic symptom disorder was common in children and adolescents attending an emergency department complaining of pain

Giorgio Cozzi, Marta Minute, Aldo Skabar, Angela Pirrone, Mohamad Jaber, Elena Neri, Marcella Montico, Alessandro Ventura, Egidio Barbi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: The aim of this study was to quantify the prevalence of somatic pain in a paediatric emergency department (ED). Methods: We conducted a prospective observational study using patients admitted to the ED of an Italian children's hospital between December 2014 and February 2015. We enrolled children aged 7–17 who turned up at the ED complaining of pain. Patients and parents were asked to fill in a questionnaire to allow the analysis of the patients’ medical history and provide contact details for follow-up. We divided the enrolled patients into four groups: post-traumatic pain, organic pain, functional pain and somatic pain. The questionnaire was used to define pain characteristics and to generate an impairment score. Results: Of the 713 patients who met inclusion criteria, 306 (42.9%) were enrolled in the study. Of these, 135 (44.0%) suffered from post-traumatic pain, 104 (34.0%) from organic pain, 41 (13.4%) from functional pain and 26 (8.6%) from somatic pain. Somatic pain patients had endured pain longer, had missed more school days and had suffered severe functional impairment. Conclusion: This study highlighted that somatic pain was a significant contributor to paediatric emergency room visits and should be suspected and diagnosed in children reporting pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586-593
Number of pages8
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Functional pain
  • Paediatric emergency department
  • Primary headache
  • Somatic pain
  • Somatic symptom disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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