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Date of Award

2002

Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Roseann Hannon

First Committee Member

Kenneth Beauchamp

Second Committee Member

Gary Howells

Abstract

Recurrent abdominal pain (RAP) is a chronic pain problem of childhood and adolescence. It is not yet clear whether RAP should be considered a single psychosocial diagnosis or a distinct set of physical symptoms. Reported prevalence rates of RAP vary greatly, especially for the adolescent age group. Stress and depression have been linked to RAP in clinic and community samples. More research is needed on treatments of RAP using larger sample sizes, appropriate controls, and multi-component treatments. Important areas to explore include RAP in non-Caucasian samples, and the relation of RAP to coping strategies. The current study examined the relationship between stress, coping, and abdominal pain in a large, multi-ethnic sample. In addition to psychological variables, prevalence of RAP in multicultural high school students was examined. One hundred fifty-one high school students completed a series of questionnaires which evaluated the students' abdominal pain, stressful life events, daily subjective stress, and coping strategies. The ethnic comparisons in this study were between Asian Americans, Mexican Americans, and White Americans. Four outliers were removed from the sample. The diagnostic criteria for abdominal pain were met by 7.3% of the sample. This is similar to rates of RAP in younger samples. There were no significant mean differences in abdominal pain between gender or ethnic groups. Gender, negative life events, common “hassles,” active coping, and passive coping predicted a significant amount of the variability in reported abdominal pain. Active coping and common hassles seem to be the most important factors in the prediction of pain. Implications of these findings and limitations in the current RAP literature are discussed.

Pages

49

ISBN

9780493965895 , 0493965890

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