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In 2013, the diagnosis of somatic symptom disorder (SSD) was introduced into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). This review aims to comprehensively synthesize contemporary evidence related to SSD.
A scoping review was conducted using PubMed, PsycINFO, and Cochrane Library. The main inclusion criteria were SSD and publication in the English language between 01/2009 and 05/2020. Systematic search terms also included subheadings for the DSM-5 text sections; i.e., diagnostic features, prevalence, development and course, risk and prognostic factors, culture, gender, suicide risk, functional consequences, differential diagnosis, and comorbidity.
Eight hundred and eighty-two articles were identified, of which 59 full texts were included for analysis. Empirical evidence supports the reliability, validity, and clinical utility of SSD diagnostic criteria, but the further specification of the psychological SSD B-criteria criteria seems necessary. General population studies using self-report questionnaires reported mean frequencies for SSD of 12.9% [95% confidence interval (CI) 12.5–13.3%], while prevalence studies based on criterion standard interviews are lacking. SSD was associated with increased functional impairment, decreased quality of life, and high comorbidity with anxiety and depressive disorders. Relevant research gaps remain regarding developmental aspects, risk and prognostic factors, suicide risk as well as culture- and gender-associated issues.
Strengths of the SSD diagnosis are its good reliability, validity, and clinical utility, which substantially improved on its predecessors. SSD characterizes a specific patient population that is significantly impaired both physically and psychologically. However, substantial research gaps exist, e.g., regarding SSD prevalence assessed with criterion standard diagnostic interviews.
The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) introduced somatic symptom and related disorders (SSD) to improve the diagnosis of somatoform disorders. It is unclear whether existing questionnaires are useful to identify patients with SSD. Our study investigates the diagnostic accuracy of the Patient Health Questionnaire-15 (PHQ-15) and the Somatic Symptom Scale-8 (SSS-8) in combination with the Somatic Symptom Disorder – B Criteria Scale (SSD-12).
For this cross-sectional study, participants were recruited from a psychosomatic outpatient clinic. PHQ-15, SSS-8, and SSD-12 were administered and compared with SSD criteria from a diagnostic interview. Sensitivity and specificity were calculated for optimal individual and combined cutpoints. Receiver operator curves were created and area under the curve (AUC) analyses assessed.
Data of n = 372 patients [31.2% male, mean age: 39.3 years (s.d. = 13.6)] were analyzed. A total of 56.2% fulfilled the SSD criteria. Diagnostic accuracy was moderate for each questionnaire (PHQ-15: AUC = 0.70; 95% CI = 0.65–0.76; SSS-8: AUC = 0.71; 95% CI = 0.66–0.77; SSD-12: AUC = 0.74; 95% CI = 0.69–0.80). Combining questionnaires improved diagnostic accuracy (PHQ-15 + SSD-12: AUC = 0.77; 95% CI = 0.72–0.82; SSS-8 + SSD-12: AUC = 0.79; 95% CI = 0.74–0.84). Optimal combined cutpoints were ⩾9 for the PHQ-15 or SSS-8, and ⩾23 for the SSD-12 (sensitivity and specificity = 69% and 70%).
The combination of the PHQ-15 or SSS-8 with the SSD-12 provides an easy-to-use and time- and cost-efficient opportunity to identify persons at risk for SSD. If systematically applied in routine care, effective screening and subsequent treatment might help to improve quality of life and reduce health care excess costs.
International guidelines advocate depression screening in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD) and other chronic illnesses, but evidence is lacking.
To test the differential efficacy of written patient-targeted feedback v. no written patient feedback after depression screening.
Patients with CHD or hypertension from three cardiology settings were randomised and screened for depression (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01879111). Compared with the control group, where only cardiologists received written feedback, in the intervention group both cardiologists and patients received written feedback regarding depression status. Depression severity was measured 1 month (primary outcome) and 6 months after screening.
The control group (n = 220) and the patient-feedback group (n = 155) did not differ in depression severity 1 month after screening. Six months after screening, the patient-feedback group showed significantly greater improvements in depression severity and was twice as likely to seek information about depression compared with the control group.
Patient-targeted feedback in addition to screening has a significant but small effect on depression severity after 6 months and may encourage patients to take an active role in the self-management of depression.
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