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August 1987

Somatization in the Community

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Drs Escobar, Burnam, Karno, Forsythe, and Golding) and School of Public Health (Dr Golding), UCLA. Dr Escobar is now with University of Connecticut, Farmington, and Newington (Conn) Veterans Administration Medical Center.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1987;44(8):713-718. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1987.01800200039006

• We examined the prevalence of somatization disorder symptoms elicited with the Diagnostic Interview Schedule in 3132 community respondents interviewed in Los Angeles by the Epidemiologic Catchment Area program. The variables age, gender, ethnic background, and the presence of a psychiatric diagnosis significantly influenced the number of somatization symptoms reported. An introductory review on conceptual and nosological aspects of somatization phenomena led to the formulation of a less-restrictive operational definition of the somatizer. We found that 4.4% of the respondents met criteria for this abridged cutoff score of somatization, whereas only 0.03% of the respondents met criteria for the full DSM-III somatization disorder diagnosis. This abridged cutoff score was associated with sociodemographic factors and psychiatric diagnosis in the direction predicted.