A systematic review of psychosocial therapies for children with rheumatic diseases

Publication Harvard University

Ezra M. Cohen, Alessio Morley-Fletcher, Darshan H. Mehta and Yvonne C. Lee.

Pediatr Rheumatol Online J. 2017 Jan 17;15(1):6


Background To assess the quality of evidence for the effects of psychosocial therapies on pain and function in children with rheumatic diseases.

Methods We conducted a literature search of MEDLINE and PsycINFO for randomized clinical trials of psychosocial interventions for pain and disability in children with rheumatic diseases from January 1969 to September 2015. Studies with a sample size less than 10 subjects were excluded. Study quality was assessed using the Jadad score.

Results Five articles met inclusion criteria, for a total of 229 patients, aged 5 to 18 years. Two studies included children with fibromyalgia. Three studies included children with juvenile arthritis. Neither study in fibromyalgia reported the statistical significance of immediate between-group pre-post changes in functioning or pain. One study examining the effects of an internet-based psychosocial intervention in children with juvenile arthritis reported significant differences in post-intervention pain scores (p = 0.03). However, 2 studies did not show improvements in pain scores among children with juvenile arthritis treated with psychosocial interventions vs. a wait-list control or vs. an active control (massage). No studies reported significant between-group differences for functional outcomes in children with juvenile arthritis.

Conclusions The available data were limited by the scarcity of randomized trials. Definite conclusions about the immediate effect of psychosocial interventions on pain and function in children with fibromyalgia could not be made because between-group comparisons of post-treatment change scores were not reported. For children with juvenile inflammatory arthritis, results of between-group comparisons for pain differed across studies, and analyses examining disability revealed no significant differences between groups.