Physical symptoms and illness attitudes in adolescents: an epidemiological study

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1996 Jul;37(5):519-28. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.1996.tb01438.x.


A secondary school population of 805 11-16-year-olds reported lifetime prevalence of 31 physical symptoms and illness attitudes. Girls had a median of six symptoms (range 0-22) and boys five (range 0-22); 67 (8.3%) had 13 or more. Older girls reported more symptoms than younger ones. The excess of symptoms in older girls was related to reporting painful periods rather than simply to age or the menarche. High symptom scorers of both sexes had significantly higher scores on seven Illness Attitude Sub-Scales (Kellner, 1987), with more distress about illness and more treatment experience. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / psychology
  • Sex Factors
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis
  • Somatoform Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology