Lifetime diagnoses in patients with somatoform disorders: Which came first?

  • Winfried Rief
  • Sylvia Schaefer
  • Wolfgang Hiller
  • Manfred M. Fichter
Original Articles


Thirty inpatients with somatoform disorders were examined with the structured clinical interview SCID for psychiatric lifetime diagnosis. In the present diagnoses, we found a concordance of 63% for somatoform and affective disorders and the lifetime comorbidity of both disorders was 87%. Additionally, patients with somatoform disorders frequently had a history of other psychiatric disorders (for example, anxiety disorders, 40%). For 73% of patients with somatoform disorders and a history of affective disorders, the onset of the somatoform disorder was prior to the onset of another psychiatric disorder. The time interval between the onsets of somatoform disorders and affective disorders was greater than 1 year for most patients; for 46% of the patients with a history of both disorders, the time interval between the two disorders was more than 5 years. The course of illness for somatoform and affective disorders was quite different; while affective disorders tended to episodic periods with interim remissions, the somatoform disorders usually showed long, chronic courses (mean duration of the current somatoform disorder was 11.9 years). Finally, the Symptom Check List SCL-90R demonstrated good discrimination between patients with affective and anxiety disorders. However, the SCL-90R failed to discriminate patients with somatoform disorders from affective- and anxiety-disordered subjects. Therefore, the development of other psychometric scales is necessary for the evaluation of patients with somatoform disorders.

Key words

Somatoform disorders Somatization disorder DSM-III-R Lifetime diagnoses Affective disorders Anxiety disorders SCL-90R 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Winfried Rief
    • 1
  • Sylvia Schaefer
    • 2
  • Wolfgang Hiller
    • 1
  • Manfred M. Fichter
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Klinik RoseneckCenter for Behavioral MedicinePrienGermany
  2. 2.University of EichstaettGermany
  3. 3.Dept. of PsychiatryUniversity of MunichGermany

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