Total somatic symptom score as a predictor of health outcome in somatic symptom disorders†

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Abstract

Background

The diagnosis of somatisation disorder in DSM-IV was based on ‘medically unexplained’ symptoms, which is unsatisfactory.

Aims

To determine the value of a total somatic symptom score as a predictor of health status and healthcare use after adjustment for anxiety, depression and general medical illness.

Method

Data from nine population-based studies (total n = 28 377) were analysed.

Results

In all cross-sectional analyses total somatic symptom score was associated with health status and healthcare use after adjustment for confounders. In two prospective studies total somatic symptom score predicted subsequent health status. This association appeared stronger than that for medically unexplained symptoms.

Conclusions

Total somatic symptom score provides a predictor of health status and healthcare use over and above the effects of anxiety, depression and general medical illnesses.

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