Introduction: Somatic symptoms are frequently reported by children with significant impairment in functioning. Despite studies on adult populations that suggest somatic symptoms often co-occur with difficulties in identifying and describing feelings, little research has been done in childhood. This study aimed to investigate the prevalence and frequency of somatic symptoms as well as to investigate the functional impairment in children with high number of self reported somatic symptoms versus those with fewer somatic symptoms. Additionally, the parental perception of their children's somatic symptoms and functioning was explored. Finally, we explored the direct and indirect effects of difficulties in identifying feelings in predicting somatic symptoms and functional disability in a sample of school-aged children and their mothers. Methods: 356 Italian school-aged children and their mothers participated in this study. Children (mean age = 11.43; SD = 2.41) completed the Children’s Somatization Inventory (CSI-24) to assess somatic symptoms, the Functional Disability Inventory (FDI) to assess physical and psychosocial functioning and the Alexithymia Questionnaire for Children (AQC) to evaluate alexithymic features. Mothers completed the parental forms of the CSI and the FDI. Results: Among children, 66.3% did not declare somatic symptoms and 33.7% reported one or more somatic symptoms in the last two weeks. A significant positive correlation emerged between children’s and mothers’ CSI total scores. Both children’s and mothers’ FDI total scores were significantly correlated with CSI scores. A significant correlation was observed between somatic symptoms and alexithymic features. Furthermore, the data showed that somatic symptoms mediated the relationship between difficulties in identifying feelings and functional impairment. Finally, it was showed that alexithymia facet of difficulty in identifying feelings contributed in large part to the prediction of the somatic symptomatology (b = 0.978, p < 0.001; R2 = 0.164, F(5, 350) = 10.32, p < 0.001). Conclusions: Findings from this study provide evidence that a higher frequency of somatic symptoms is associated with functional disabilities and alexithymic facets in school-aged children.

A comprehensive approach to understand somatic symptoms and their impact on emotional and psychosocial functioning in children / Cerutti, Rita; Spensieri, Valentina; Valastro, Carmela; Presaghi, Fabio; Canitano, Roberto; Guidetti, Vincenzo. - In: PLOS ONE. - ISSN 1932-6203. - STAMPA. - 1(2017), pp. 1-11. [DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0171867]

A comprehensive approach to understand somatic symptoms and their impact on emotional and psychosocial functioning in children

CERUTTI, Rita;SPENSIERI, VALENTINA;VALASTRO, CARMELA;PRESAGHI, Fabio;GUIDETTI, Vincenzo
2017

Abstract

Introduction: Somatic symptoms are frequently reported by children with significant impairment in functioning. Despite studies on adult populations that suggest somatic symptoms often co-occur with difficulties in identifying and describing feelings, little research has been done in childhood. This study aimed to investigate the prevalence and frequency of somatic symptoms as well as to investigate the functional impairment in children with high number of self reported somatic symptoms versus those with fewer somatic symptoms. Additionally, the parental perception of their children's somatic symptoms and functioning was explored. Finally, we explored the direct and indirect effects of difficulties in identifying feelings in predicting somatic symptoms and functional disability in a sample of school-aged children and their mothers. Methods: 356 Italian school-aged children and their mothers participated in this study. Children (mean age = 11.43; SD = 2.41) completed the Children’s Somatization Inventory (CSI-24) to assess somatic symptoms, the Functional Disability Inventory (FDI) to assess physical and psychosocial functioning and the Alexithymia Questionnaire for Children (AQC) to evaluate alexithymic features. Mothers completed the parental forms of the CSI and the FDI. Results: Among children, 66.3% did not declare somatic symptoms and 33.7% reported one or more somatic symptoms in the last two weeks. A significant positive correlation emerged between children’s and mothers’ CSI total scores. Both children’s and mothers’ FDI total scores were significantly correlated with CSI scores. A significant correlation was observed between somatic symptoms and alexithymic features. Furthermore, the data showed that somatic symptoms mediated the relationship between difficulties in identifying feelings and functional impairment. Finally, it was showed that alexithymia facet of difficulty in identifying feelings contributed in large part to the prediction of the somatic symptomatology (b = 0.978, p < 0.001; R2 = 0.164, F(5, 350) = 10.32, p < 0.001). Conclusions: Findings from this study provide evidence that a higher frequency of somatic symptoms is associated with functional disabilities and alexithymic facets in school-aged children.
2017
somatic symptoms; psychosocial functioning; school-aged children; mothers; alexithymia
01 Pubblicazione su rivista::01a Articolo in rivista
A comprehensive approach to understand somatic symptoms and their impact on emotional and psychosocial functioning in children / Cerutti, Rita; Spensieri, Valentina; Valastro, Carmela; Presaghi, Fabio; Canitano, Roberto; Guidetti, Vincenzo. - In: PLOS ONE. - ISSN 1932-6203. - STAMPA. - 1(2017), pp. 1-11. [DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0171867]
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11573/932004
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