Background: Children with medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) represent a challenge for paediatricians and typically undergo extensive in-patient investigations for symptoms such as abdominal pain. This can delay access to psychological services. This study aims to develop and evaluate a scale to assess the attitudes of paediatric staff to caring for children with MUS and to explore factors influencing those attitudes.
Method: In this cross-sectional survey, 118 health professionals at one UK hospital with experience of caring for children with MUS completed an attitude questionnaire developed for the study.
Results: Factor analysis identified four factors that explained significant variance in staff perceptions of care: rewarding nature of care; demanding nature of care; parental influence; children’s need for skilled support. The combined subscales formed the MUS-Q.
Conclusion: Paediatric staff found caring for children with MUS difficult and would welcome more support from CAMHS. The MUS-Q proved a reliable tool to evaluate staff attitudes.