Impact Factor 2.857

Frontiers journals are at the top of citation and impact metrics

Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychiatry | doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00613

Predictors of persistent Medically Unexplained physical Symptoms: findings from a general population study

  • 1Top clinical Center for Body, Mind and Health, GGz Breburg, Netherlands
  • 2Department Tranzo, Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Tilburg University, Netherlands
  • 3Trimbos Institute, Netherlands
  • 4GGz Breburg, Netherlands
  • 5Brighton and Sussex Medical School, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
  • 6Department of Health Sciences, University of York, United Kingdom

Objective: To explore the course of Medically Unexplained Symptoms (MUS) and its prognostics factors in the general adult population. Knowledge of prognostic factors of MUS may indicate possible avenues for intervention development.
Methods: Data were derived from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study-2 (NEMESIS-2), a nationally representative face-to-face cohort study among the Dutch general population aged 18-64 years. We selected subjects with MUS at baseline and who participated at follow-up (N=324) and reassessed those subjects for having MUS at three year follow-up. Logistic regression analyses were used to determine risk factors for persistency of MUS.
Results: 36.4% of the subjects had persistent MUS at follow-up. In logistic regression analyses adjusted for sex and age, persistency of MUS was predicted by the number of comorbid chronic medical disorder(s), lower education, female sex, not having a paid job, parental psychopathology as well as lower functioning. In the logistic regression analysis in which all significant variables adjusted for sex and age were entered simultaneously, three variables predicted persistent MUS: parental psychopathology, the number of comorbid chronic medical disorder(s) and physical functioning, with odds ratios of 2.01 (1.20-3.38), 1.19 (1.01-1.40) and 0.99 (0.97-1.00), respectively.
Conclusion: In the adult general population, MUS were persistent in over one third of the subjects with MUS at baseline. Persistency was uniquely predicted by parental psychopathology, number of comorbid chronic medical disorders and physical functioning. These findings warrant further research into early intervention and treatment options for persons with an increased risk of persistent MUS.

Keywords: Medically unexplained symptoms (MUS), course, prognosis, Persistency, general population

Received: 29 Aug 2018; Accepted: 31 Oct 2018.

Edited by:

Martina De Zwaan, Hannover Medical School, Germany

Reviewed by:

Urs Nater, Universität Wien, Austria
Robert G. Maunder, University of Toronto, Canada  

Copyright: © 2018 van Eck van der Sluijs, ten Have, De Graaf, Rijnders, Van Marwijk and van der Feltz-Cornelis. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: MD. Jonna F. van Eck van der Sluijs, Top clinical Center for Body, Mind and Health, GGz Breburg, Tilburg, Netherlands,