A systematic review and subset meta-analysis of published randomised controlled trials of psychological therapies for children and adolescents with chronic pain is reported. A search of four computerised abstracting services recovered 123 papers from which 28 potential trials were identified. Eighteen met the criteria for inclusion in the review. The majority of these papers reported brief behavioural and cognitive behavioural interventions for children with headache and many were conducted in community (i.e. school) settings. Meta-analysis was applicable for 12 headache trials and one trial of recurrent abdominal pain using the Pain Index. The odds-ratio for a 50% reduction in pain was 9.62 and the number needed to treat was 2.32, indicating that the psychological treatments examined are effective in reducing the pain of headache. The quality of the 18 trials retrieved is narratively reviewed and suggestions for the development of trials in this field are made.
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