General medical and psychiatric perspectives on somatoform disorders: Separated by an uncommon language

Martin Strassnig, Keith R. Stowell, Michael B. First, Harold Alan Pincus

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

20 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: While Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV provided updated definitions and diagnostic criteria for the diagnoses subsumed under the category of somatoform disorders, various nosological questions are still unresolved. We assessed current research activity on important key concepts related to nosology, validity, and reliability of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV somatoform diagnoses. RECENT FINDINGS: The initial Medline search for articles from 2000 through 2005 yielded a total of 912 articles. After checking for redundancy and excluding publications using other than Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV diagnostic criteria, a total of 101 articles was further reviewed. Heterogeneity of papers precluded statistical approaches; thus, a descriptive and narrative review was pursued. SUMMARY: It appears that applying the specific categories and criteria as proposed by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV only captures a small proportion of the phenomena of interest at the interface of medicine and psychiatry. A paradigm shift towards 'general medical/psychiatry interface disorders' in exchange for the current dichotomy of 'mind' vs. 'body' disorders, may reduce stigma associated with current diagnostic labeling, improve user acceptability, and stimulate research in this important but still fragmented clinical area that still lacks agreed-upon diagnostic definitions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-200
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 25 2006



  • General medical condition
  • Nosology
  • Somatization disorder
  • Somatoform

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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