Impairment of physical and psychosocial function in recurrent syncope

J Clin Epidemiol. 1991;44(10):1037-43. doi: 10.1016/0895-4356(91)90005-t.


Physical and psychosocial function have rarely been assessed in syncope. We used two valid and reliable measures of health status, the Sickness Impact Profile (SIP) and the Symptom Checklist 90 (SCL-90-R), to assess functional impairment in 62 patients with recurrent syncope seen in a syncope specialty clinic. Mean total SIP scores were markedly elevated at 17 (SD = 14), indicating a level of impairment similar to severe rheumatoid arthritis and chronic low back pain. SIP psychosocial scores were significantly greater than SIP physical scores (20 vs 11, p less than 0.0001). SCL-90-R scores were also high, comparable to those of psychiatric inpatients. Somatization, anxiety and depression dimensions of the SCL-90-R were particularly elevated. SCL-90-R subscale scores were highly correlated with SIP psychosocial scores (all r greater than 0.4, and p less than 0.001). Neither age nor number of comorbid diseases correlated with measures of psychosocial function, suggesting that syncope itself causes psychosocial impairment. Although this was a referral population, these data suggest that function can be seriously impaired by syncope, that the degree of impairment is similar to that reported in other chronic diseases, and that syncope leads to significantly greater psychosocial than physical impairment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychosocial Deprivation*
  • Recurrence
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Syncope / etiology
  • Syncope / physiopathology
  • Syncope / psychology*