Children with functional GI or motility disorders are influenced by many factors. These include genetic predispositions, unique biological and psychological characteristics, family and caregivers, and external systems including school, friends, and community or social situations. Any of these can influence his or her symptom or illness experience. An integrated approach to treatment, which recognizes that the child is at the center of these interacting systems, is often an effective approach.
Within this model, the child is inextricably linked to his or her family. When a child experiences academic difficulties, conflicts with friends, or problems encountered in community activities such as team sports or social groups, the entire family’s equilibrium can be affected. Similarly, the child may be affected by significant or stressful experiences of other family members, including parents, siblings, grandparents or other relatives. An integrated, or global, approach takes into account the interdependence of the child and his or her family; consequently the family system, as well as the individual child, are included in the treatment plan.
Within this framework, the physician will spend time with both the patient and the child's family, not only providing education about the disorder but also seeking to understand factors that may compound the child's disorder. Mild symptoms can often be sufficiently treated with education and simple lifestyle modifications. More moderate to severe symptoms may require additional interventions such as medications and behavioral support.
Depending on the disorder and level of severity, treatment may combine medical support from a physician, dietary support from a dietician, and psychological support from a therapist. They will seek to help the child and family develop new and more effective ways of managing symptoms. Working together with the patient and family, the goal is to help set realistic treatment objectives, decrease the frequency and intensity of symptoms, and improve everyday functioning.
- Caplan A, Rasquin A. The Global Approach to Pediatric Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. IFFGD Fact Sheet No. 825; 2003.