Knowledge of conversion disorder in children by pediatricians in a developing country
Introduction: Conversion disorder (CD) in children presents the clinician with a diagnostic and treatment dilemma. Mistaking a physical condition for CD carries serious consequences for the child while continued investigation in line with physical disease in a child with CD also may expose the child to serious harm.
Materials and Methods: One hundred and seventy‑four consenting doctors who attended a national conference of pediatricians were administered a 10 item questionnaire developed by the researchers.
Results: Only 5 (2.9%) of participants had good knowledge (scored above the mean plus one standard deviation of the score obtained by the psychiatry residents. Gender, rank, years of experience, availability of psychiatric service in center and duration of the psychiatry posting as the medical student could not differentiate those with good/fair knowledge from those without. However, those who have referred children for psychiatric assessment (P = 0.015), those who believe that children can have CD (P = 0.000) and those who are fairly confident that they could diagnose CD in children (P = 0.000) had better knowledge of CD.
Conclusion: Pediatricians have poor knowledge of CDs in children. Those that know that children could have the condition have confidence that they can identify children with the condition and have referred with mental health problems to psychiatrists have better knowledge than those who did not.
Keywords: Conversion disorder, knowledge, pediatricians