Somatoform disorders in general practice - Prevalence, functional impairment and comorbidity with anxiety and depressive disorders
General practitioners play a pivotal part in the recognition and treatment of psychiatric disorders. Identifying somatoform disorders is important for the choice of treatment. To quantify the prevalence of, and functional impairment associated with, somatoform disorders, and their comorbidity with anxiety/depressive disorders. Two-stage prevalence study: a set of questionnaires was completed by 1046 consecutive patients of general practitioners (aged 25-80 years), followed by a standardised diagnostic interview (SCAN 2.1). The prevalence of somatoform disorders was 16.1% (95% CI 12.8-19.4). When disorders with only mild impairment were included, the prevalence increased to 21.9%. Comorbidity of somatoform disorders and anxiety/depressive disorders was 3.3 times more likely than expected by chance. In patients with comorbid disorders, physical symptoms, depressive symptoms and functional limitations were additive. Our findings underline the importance of a comprehensive diagnostic approach to psychiatric disorders in general practice.
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