The epidemiology of multiple somatic symptoms

Journal of Psychosomatic Research
F H CreedJ McBeth


The risk factors for a high total somatic symptom count are unclear; and it is not known whether total somatic symptoms count is a predictor of impaired health status. A prospective population-based cohort study in North West England. Randomly sampled residents (1443 participants; 58% response) completed questionnaires to determine number of somatic symptoms (SSI), health status and a wide range of risk factors; 741 completed questionnaires 1 year later. We used logistic regression to identify risk factors for high SSI at follow-up and for persistently high SSI. We used ANCOVAR and multiple regression to assess whether baseline SSI predicted health status at follow-up. Twenty-one percent of participants scored over 25 on the Somatic Symptom Inventory (SSI) at baseline and 14% at both baseline and follow-up. Risk factors for a persistent high SSI were: fewer than 12 years of education, separated, widowed or divorced status, reported psychological abuse during childhood, co-existing medical illnesses, anxiety and depression. In multivariate analysis baseline SSI predicted health status (SF12 physical component score and health-related quality of life (EuroQol)) 12 months later. Persistent high SSI was a clinically meaningful pred...Continue Reading


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