Somatoform disorders in consultation-liaison psychiatry: a comparison with other mental disorders

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2003 Jan-Feb;25(1):8-13. doi: 10.1016/s0163-8343(02)00248-7.


Consultation-liaison (C-L) psychiatry has an important role in the management of somatoform disorders (SD). Characteristics of SD patients in C-L psychiatry are largely unknown and are presented in this paper. We analyzed 13,314 Dutch psychiatric consultations from 1984 to 1991 and compared patients diagnosed with SD to patients with other mental disorders and to those without a mental disorder. The comparison included socio-demographic variables, consult characteristics, medical history, current somatic morbidity, information about additional diagnostic tests, hospital admission time and aftercare management. Of the 544 SD patients 39.5% (n = 215) were diagnosed with a conversion disorder that illustrates the highly selected nature of SD patients in C-L psychiatry. Employment among SD patients decreased significantly from 58% in the group aged 20-29 years to 6% in the group aged 50-59 years. This decrease was significantly larger as compared to other mental disorders and no mental disorders and was virtually unaffected by correction for potential confounding by gender. Contrary to our expectation no difference between the three groups was observed in claims for disability benefits. Of the SD patients 74.5% were referred for aftercare management, significantly more than the other two groups which is considered a promising development in C-L psychiatry.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatry*
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Somatoform Disorders / epidemiology
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology
  • Time Factors