Abnormal illness behavior of patients with functional somatic symptoms: Relation to psychiatric disorders

Yingqiu Guo, Toshihide Kuroki, Shunzo Koizumi

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Functional somatic symptoms are highly associated with hypochondriasis, anxiety, and depressive disorders. Despite the absence of an organic disorder, underlying psychological distress of patients with functional somatic symptoms may result in abnormal illness behavior such as inadequate treatment seeking or overuse of medical services. Using the Illness Behavior Questionnaire (IBQ), we examined the illness behavior of Japanese patients visiting a general medicine clinic whose physical symptoms were considered functional. We used the General Health Questionnaire-30 to classify patients with functional somatic symptoms as those with and without psychological distress. Patients with distress (n=35) reported more physical complaints and higher IBQ scores than did patients without distress (n=22). The IBQ profile of patients with psychological distress was identical to that of patients diagnosed with either hypochondriasis or major depression. The illness behavior of patients without psychological distress was indistinguishable from that of patients whose physical symptoms were attributed to organic disease. These results further support the hypothesis that functional somatic symptoms may be associated with hypochondriasis and major depression, the pathology of which may contribute to the development of abnormal illness behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-229
Number of pages7
JournalGeneral Hospital Psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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