UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Pediatric Avoidant-Restrictive Food Intake Disorder and gastrointestinal-related Somatic Symptom Disorders : Overlap in clinical presentation Boerner, Katelynn E.; Coelho, Jennifer S.; Syal, Fiza; Bajaj, Deepika; Finner, Natalie; Dhariwal, Amrit K.


Certain presentations of Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) and Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders (SSRDs) have conceptual overlap, namely, distress and impairment related to a physical symptom. This study compared characteristics of pediatric patients diagnosed with ARFID to those with gastrointestinal (GI)-related SSRD. A 5-year retrospective chart review at a tertiary care pediatric hospital comparing assessment data of patients with a diagnosis of ARFID (n = 62; 69% girls, Mage = 14.08 years) or a GI-related SSRD (n = 37; 68% girls, Mage = 14.25 years). Patients diagnosed with ARFID had a significantly lower percentage of median BMI than those with GI-related SSRD. Patients diagnosed with ARFID were most often assessed in the Eating Disorders Program, whereas patients diagnosed with an SSRD were most often assessed by ConsultationLiaison Psychiatry. Groups did not differ on demographics, psychiatric diagnoses, illness duration, or pre-assessment services/medications. GI symptoms were common across groups. Patients diagnosed with an SSRD had more co-occurring medical diagnoses. A subset (16%) of patients reported symptoms consistent with both diagnoses. Overlap is observed in the clinical presentation of pediatric patients diagnosed with ARFID or GI-related SSRD. Some group differences emerged, including anthropometric measurements and co-occurring medical conditions. Findings may inform diagnostic classification and treatment approach.

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