Somatic complaints in primary care: further examining the validity of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-15)

Psychosomatics. 2006 Sep-Oct;47(5):392-8. doi: 10.1176/appi.psy.47.5.392.


The authors examined the reliability and validity of the PHQ-15, a measure of current somatic complaints. An index of medically unexplained symptoms was used as a key criterion. Data were utilized from medical outpatients enrolled in a treatment study for moderate-to-severe somatization (N=172). Approximately 68% of the sample was Hispanic. Results showed that the PHQ-15 was moderately related to a history of medically unexplained symptoms among non-Hispanic participants. Results indicated ethnic differences on the validity profile of the PHQ-15 showing that the criterion variables were less predictive of the PHQ-15 among Hispanics than among non-Hispanics. Also, among the Hispanic group, the PHQ-15 was less related to medically unexplained symptoms and more to psychiatric distress. General support was provided for using the PHQ-15 with clinical samples composed of non-Hispanics. Also, the PHQ-15 appears to measure medically unexplained symptoms, psychiatric distress, and physical functioning. Further study is recommended to better evaluate ethnic variations and other types of validity for the PHQ-15.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychometrics / instrumentation*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Somatoform Disorders / ethnology
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires* / standards