Medically Unexplained Somatic Symptoms in Different Cultures. A Preliminary Report From Phase I of the World Health Organization International Study of Somatoform Disorders

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Isaac, Mohan
Janca, Aleksandar
Burke, Kimberly Christie
Silva, Jorge Alberto Costa e
Acuda, Stanley Wilson
Altamura, A. Carlo
Burke, Jack D.
Chandrashekar, C. R.
Miranda, Claudio Torres de [UNIFESP]
Tacchini, Gianluigi
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The World Health Organization has recently launched an international study of somatoform disorders in different cultures. Five centres representing distinct cultures participated in phase I of the project, the main objective of which was to test the cross-cultural applicability and reliability of instruments for the assessment of somatoform disorders. The analysis of the assessed somatic symptoms showed that various aches and pains in different parts of the body represented cross-culturally the most frequent symptoms for which there was no medical explanation. Such symptoms may indicate the presence of an underlying mental disorder but can also represent a means for culture-specific expression of psychosocial distress. This bears particular significance for health professionals in primary and general medical care, who are most likely to encounter patients presenting with multiple, persistent and medically unexplained somatic symptoms.
Psychotherapy And Psychosomatics. Basel: Karger, v. 64, n. 2, p. 88-93, 1995.