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What would you tell a teen with IBS or chronic abdominal pain? What kind advice or know-how would you have wanted when you were a teen?
Tummy aches are one of the most common ailments that bring children to the doctor’s office. For most kids, tummy aches might be a flu or a reaction to food or the only way to express distress. For others, tummy aches can become chronic and interfere with daily life and even going to school, and participating in the typical social activities like going to camp or sleepovers. Teens and young adults with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), for example, are more likely to experience depression and anxiety than those who do not have IBS. And more often than not, teens have a hard time when it comes to dealing with the difficult physical, social, and emotional complications that result from having to deal with a chronic condition. We know this because we’ve been talking with teens with IBS. As one teen in our study said,
Sometimes hanging out with friends can be a little intimidating, just because it could start in the middle of hanging out with them, or you might need to run to the bathroom, or something like that.
About eating with friends another teen reflected,
A lot of times, my friends, they eat a lot of ice cream or whatever, and I’m like, no I can’t have ice cream so I just sit there and they’ll just eat the ice cream …and then they’ll all feel bad … and then I’ll feel bad that they all feel bad.
That’s why we are working on a technology tool for tweens and teens with IBS or abdominal pain. This involves creating a virtual buddy, sort of like a mobile pocket coach. This buddy offers empathic support that encourages kids with IBS to adopt skills for managing pain, building resilience to stress, and coping with the embarrassment or shame of having IBS and that may keep them socially isolated. We want to get away from medical conversations and get real – as real as can be with technology anyway!
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU.
UCLA online survey for 13-30 year olds with IBS or abdominal pain
As part of the project with UCLA Pediatric Pain Clinic, and funded by a grant from the NIH, we are interested in hearing from young people, ages 13+ about what they have found most helpful to cope with IBS. If you are 18-30, we wonder what would you say to a young person (or your younger self) with IBS or abdominal pain about getting through a tough day.
Announcement: Researchers at UCLA are looking for teens and young adults to complete a brief survey online. You will answer questions about situations you need help with, and how you cope with stomach pain and other symptoms. The survey is anonymous and takes around 15 minutes to complete. If you are between 13 and 30 years old and have IBS, functional abdominal pain, or recurrent abdominal pain, you are eligible to participate! Please click here to complete the survey.
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Dr. Tara Cousineau