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Compr Psychiatry. 1999 Sep-Oct;40(5):353-7.

Clinical utility of DSM-IV pain disorder.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Vienna, Austria.


The utility of DSM-IV criteria for pain disorder was investigated within a consecutive sample of 90 chronic pain patients aged between 18 and 65 years. In this sample, 65.6% (n = 59) fulfilled diagnostic criteria for DSM-IV pain disorder. Of the patients with DSM-IV pain disorder, 22% fulfilled additional criteria for depressive disorder, 6.8% for hypochondriasis, and 23.7% for any other DSM-IV diagnosis. Only 54.2% of the patients with DSM-IV pain disorder had no comorbid psychiatric disorder. When assessing somatoform symptoms without hierarchical guidelines, there is a great overlap between the symptomatology of pain disorder and other somatoform disorders. Of 59 patients with DSM-IV pain disorder, 93.2% also met criteria for DSM-IV undifferentiated somatoform disorder and 10.2% for DSM-IV somatization disorder. The mean number of somatoform symptoms was 17 in the total sample. Despite the presence or absence of a general medical condition, there was no significant difference between pain disorder associated with both psychological factors and a general medical condition (code 307.89) and pain disorder associated with psychological factors (code 307.80) with regard to the pain duration, intensity, and type and the level of disability and educational level. The formulation of a distinct psychiatric entity for pain conditions may improve the consideration of psychosocial factors in the pathogenesis and clinical cause of pain. However, with regard to our data, the distinctive validity of different subtypes of pain disorder as provided by DSM-IV awaits further clarification.

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