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Somatic symptom profiles in the general population: a latent class analysis in a Danish population-based health survey

Authors Eliasen M, Jørgensen T, Schröder A, Dantoft TM, Fink P, Poulsen CH, Johansen NB, Eplov LF, Skovbjerg S, Kreiner S

Received 15 March 2017

Accepted for publication 31 May 2017

Published 23 August 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 421—433


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Henrik Toft Sørensen

Marie Eliasen,1 Torben Jørgensen,1–3 Andreas Schröder,4 Thomas Meinertz Dantoft,1 Per Fink,4 Chalotte Heinsvig Poulsen,1,5 Nanna Borup Johansen,1 Lene Falgaard Eplov,5 Sine Skovbjerg,1 Svend Kreiner2

1Research Centre for Prevention and Health, Centre for Health, The Capital Region of Denmark, Glostrup, 2Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, 3Department of Clinical Medicine, Aalborg University, Aalborg, 4Research Clinic for Functional Disorders and Psychosomatics, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus C, 5Mental Health Centre Copenhagen, The Capital Region of Denmark, Hellerup, Denmark

Purpose: The aim of this study was to identify and describe somatic symptom profiles in the general adult population in order to enable further epidemiological research within multiple somatic symptoms.
Methods: Information on 19 self-reported common somatic symptoms was achieved from a population-based questionnaire survey of 36,163 randomly selected adults in the Capital Region of Denmark (55.4% women). The participants stated whether they had been considerably bothered by each symptom within 14 days prior to answering the questionnaire. We used latent class analysis to identify the somatic symptom profiles. The profiles were further described by their association with age, sex, chronic disease, and self-perceived health.
Results: We identified 10 different somatic symptom profiles defined by number, type, and site of the symptoms. The majority of the population (74.0%) had a profile characterized by no considerable bothering symptoms, while a minor group of 3.9% had profiles defined by a high risk of multiple somatic symptoms. The remaining profiles were more likely to be characterized by a few specific symptoms. The profiles could further be described by their associations with age, sex, chronic disease, and self-perceived health.
Conclusion: The identified somatic symptom profiles could be distinguished by number, type, and site of the symptoms. The profiles have the potential to be used in further epidemiological studies on risk factors and prognosis of somatic symptoms but should be confirmed in other population-based studies with specific focus on symptom burden.

epidemiology, somatic symptoms, subjective health complaints, multiple symptoms, functional somatic syndromes, health status

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