Physical and emotional functioning of adult patients with chronic abdominal pain: Comparison with patients with chronic back pain

Cynthia O. Townsend, Christopher D. Sletten, Barbara K. Bruce, Jeffrey D. Rome, Connie A. Luedtke, John E. Hodgson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Adults with chronic abdominal pain remain a poorly defined population, despite the debilitation and depression associated with this therapeutically challenging condition. This study compared patients with chronic abdominal pain with an empirically well-known group of patients with chronic pain (back pain) to investigate similarities and differences in their physical and mental functioning. This retrospective, cross-sectional study included 136 patients with abdominal pain and 364 patients with back pain seen in a comprehensive pain rehabilitation center. Patients' functioning was assessed with the Short Form-36 Health Survey, Multidimensional Pain Inventory, Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression scale, and Coping Strategies Questionnaire-Catastrophizing subscale. Both the abdominal and back pain patients reported long-standing and severe pain, numerous surgery procedures, poor functioning, and high prevalence of depression. When age, education, and marital status were controlled for, analyses showed that although patients with abdominal pain reported significantly better physical functioning than patients with back pain (P < .001), their overall health perception was significantly poorer (P < .001). Although less prevalent, it is clear that patients with chronic abdominal pain exhibit poor functioning and prevalence of depression that are comparable to patients with chronic back pain. This study also suggests distinct characteristics that are vital to consider for effective treatment of this chronic pain population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-83
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pain
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • Chronic abdominal pain
  • Chronic back pain
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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