Epidemiology

The prevalence of somatization disorder is about 1 per cent in the general population and 1 to 6 per cent in primary care and in inpatient medical settings, but it is much higher if less restrictive abridged criteria are used. ^.M2,22,24) Females predominate, with a male-to-female ratio of about 1:2 to 1:6a1,2 2 2425)

Cultural and ethnic factors may also affect the prevalence rate, which could be due to the influence of these factors on the likelihood of presentation to health care rather than real prevalence differences in the general population. (6,9,.22)

As previously mentioned, the age of onset of somatization disorders is from early childhood to 30 to 35 years.

This patient group poses a considerable financial burden to health- and social-service provision, a loss to industry, and a dependence on invalidity benefits for long periods/1 In a study of the 1 per cent of the general population with the highest general hospital admission rate, it was shown that one-fifth were chronic somatizers. They had a lifetime median of 22 admissions distributed on all types of medical/surgical specialties, and had comprised 3 per cent of the general population's admissions to non-psychiatric departments. ty

Somatization disorder is associated with a wide spectrum of heterogeneous psychiatric disorders, including personality disorders and mental retardation. Moreover, the comorbidity rate is more than 50 per cent, being highest in the most chronic cases.

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