Somatic symptoms in primary care and psychological comorbidities in Qatar: neglected burden of disease

Int Rev Psychiatry. 2013 Feb;25(1):100-6. doi: 10.3109/09540261.2012.730993.


Although somatic complains are the predominant reasons for seeking general medical care, there has been limited research on the clinical presentation of somatic symptoms in primary care settings in developing countries. The frequency of somatic symptoms in primary care in Qatar and its relationship to comorbidities of mental disorders is presented here. A total of 2,320 Arab patients were approached, of whom 76% agreed to participate for the survey conducted among primary healthcare (PHC) centre patients. The study was conducted with the help of general practitioners (GPs), using the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12), Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ)-8 for depression, the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale (GAD)-7 for anxiety, PHQ-15 for somatic symptoms and the Psychological Stress Measure (PSM)-9 for stress. Of the subjects with somatic symptoms (229 cases), most were Qataris (57.2%). Poor hearing (52.1%), palpitation (47.1%) and stomach pain (43.8%) were the most common in men, whereas constipation (54.6%), feeling depressed (50.9%), and poor hearing (50.6%) were the most common in women; 48.5% had more than four somatic symptoms. Somatic symptoms were severe in 31.9%. Somatic symptoms were associated with depression (15.3%), anxiety (8.7%) and stress disorders (19.2%). The study findings revealed that somatic symptoms were significantly associated with socio-economic status. Somatic symptoms were significantly associated with depression, anxiety and stress disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Comorbidity
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illness Behavior
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Health Care* / methods
  • Primary Health Care* / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychological Techniques
  • Qatar / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Somatoform Disorders* / classification
  • Somatoform Disorders* / complications
  • Somatoform Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Symptom Assessment* / methods
  • Symptom Assessment* / statistics & numerical data