Somatic symptoms of distress: an international primary care study

Simon, G., Gater, R., Kisely, S. and Piccinelli, M. (1996) Somatic symptoms of distress: an international primary care study. Psychosomatic Medicine, 58 5: 481-488.

Author Simon, G.
Gater, R.
Kisely, S.
Piccinelli, M.
Title Somatic symptoms of distress: an international primary care study
Journal name Psychosomatic Medicine   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0033-3174
Publication date 1996-09
Sub-type Article (original research)
Volume 58
Issue 5
Start page 481
End page 488
Total pages 8
Place of publication Philadelphia, PA, United States
Publisher Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
Language eng
Abstract The objective of this study was to examine cross-national differences in somatic symptoms associated with psychological distress. Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) collaborative study of psychological problems in general health care (5438 patients at 15 sites) were used to examine somatic symptoms associated with psychological distress. At each site, a stratified random sample of consecutive primary care patients completed the 28-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) and the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). At all sites, the number of current CIDI somatic symptoms (whether medically explained or not) was strongly associated with current psychological distress (measured by selected GHQ-28 items). Pearson correlation of somatic symptom count with psychological distress score was .42 for all sites and ranged from .20 to .58 (p < .0001 at all sites). Across all sites, anxiety and depressive symptoms showed roughly the same association with somatic symptom counts, and specific somatic symptoms or symptom clusters did not show differential association with anxiety or depression. Although somatic symptoms did cluster into meaningful groups (gastrointestinal, neurological/conversion, autonomic, and musculoskeletal), these symptom groups did not show differential association with psychological distress. Examination of individual somatic symptoms and symptom clusters across sites did not reveal clear patterns of association according to geography or level of economic development. These data show a strong association between somatic symptoms and psychological distress, which did not vary across disparate cultures and levels of economic development. Cultural factors, however, may influence the meaning attached to symptoms or the likelihood of presentation for health care.
Keyword Somatization
Primary care
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Publications
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Created: Wed, 18 Nov 2009, 12:22:38 EST