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The diagnosis of somatisation disorder in DSM-IV was based on ‘medically unexplained’ symptoms, which is unsatisfactory.
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.
Data from nine population-based studies (total n = 28377) were analysed.
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.
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.