Conversion disorder in children and adolescents: a 4-year follow-up study

J Psychosom Res. 2002 Apr;52(4):187-91. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3999(01)00306-3.


Objective: To assess the outcome of conversion disorder in children and adolescents and to identify factors affecting the prognosis.

Method: Forty adolescents with conversion disorder were reevaluated 4 years after their initial interview. Changes in demographic and clinical data and the presence of any mood and anxiety disorders were recorded using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorder (SCID-I). In addition, Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) were applied.

Results: Thirty-four patients (85%) had completely recovered from their conversion symptoms and two patients had improved (5%), whereas only four (10%) were unchanged. Fourteen (35%) patients received the diagnosis of mood and/or anxiety disorder. Favourable outcome was associated with early diagnosis (P=.04) and good premorbid adjustment (P=.01).

Conclusion: Conversion disorder has a favourable outcome in children and adolescents. However, mood and/or anxiety disorders are encountered at a considerable rate in these patients even after recovery from conversion symptoms. Long clinical follow-up seems appropriate in children and adolescents with conversion disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Conversion Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Sex Distribution