Stress-induced somatization in spouses of deployed and nondeployed servicemen

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Abstract

Purpose:

To compare the level of perceived stress and somatization experienced by spouses of deployed versus nondeployed servicemen, and to determine the relationship between stress and somatization.

Data sources:

Using Lazarus and Folkman's theory of Stress and Coping, a descriptive correlational design was used with 130 participants; 68 spouses of nondeployed servicemen and 62 spouses of servicemen deployed to a combat zone. Participants completed a Perceived Stress Scale-10 and Patient Heath Questionnaire-15. An independent t-test was used to determine the level of perceived stress and somatization in each sample. The Pearson's correlation was used to determine the relationship between perceived stress score and level of somatization in the total sample.

Conclusions:

Spouses of deployed servicemen had significantly higher perceived stress scores than spouses of nondeployed service members (p <.001). Somatization scores were also significantly higher in spouses of deployed versus nondeployed servicemen (p <.001). A significant positive correlation was found between level of perceived stress and level of somatization (r = .878, p <.001).

Implications for practice:

Providers should be familiar with common somatic symptoms, treatments used for somatization and adjunct community resources available to patients with stress-related somatization.

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