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Measuring functional recovery in somatic symptom and related disorders: a scoping review


Objective Somatic symptom and related disorders (SSRDs) are prevalent, heterogenous conditions that have the potential to profoundly affect normative function in children and adolescents. Yet there is little understanding of pathways to recovery. This study aimed to systematically scope how functional recovery has been measured in children and adolescents with SSRD .

Design Scoping review of primary studies.

Method Medline (Ovid) and PsychInfo were systematically searched for publications from January 1998 to April 2019. Primary studies in English that reported functional outcomes of children and adolescents with SSRD were included. Case reports and population studies were excluded. Within the tools and clinician notes, the core domains of functional outcome were identified.

Results Sixteen studies were identified that used 11 different functional outcome tools. The domains assessed within these functional outcome tools, together with the domains noted by clinicians, included physical and mental health symptoms, as well as school attendance and academic outcomes, recreational participation, impact on family and service utilisation. There was no evidence of a preferred outcome measure as only two of the tools were used in more than one study.

Conclusions The variability of tools and domains used to measure functional recovery in children and adolescents with SSRD suggests lack of conceptual agreement about what constitutes functional recovery. Continued focus on symptom measurement or mental health comorbidities risks limiting research to single types of disorder (eg, functional neurological disability) or interventions, which threatens a much needed wider research agenda around appropriate treatment, including of complex and persistent disorders.

  • adolescent health
  • child psychiatry
  • measurement
  • outcomes research
  • general paediatrics

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