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Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2003 Sep;18(9):812-9.

The neglect of somatoform disorders by old age psychiatry: some explanations and suggestions for future research.

Author information

  • 1St George Hospital, NSW, Australia. wijeratnec@sesahs.nsw.gov.au

Abstract

AIM:

The somatoform disorders have long been ignored by old age psychiatry. The main aim of this paper is to identify and examine possible reasons for this neglect.

METHOD:

A selective review of the general literature on somatoform disorders.

RESULTS:

Significant conceptual, diagnostic and classificatory problems have impeded the consideration of somatoform disorders in older people. There is a perception that somatoform disorders are infrequent and have not been validated as independent clinical disorders. However, we present evidence that the more broadly defined somatoform disorders are common in all age groups in primary care and meet criteria for the determination of clinical validity. General difficulties in the assessment of psychiatric disorders in primary care, the setting in which somatoform disorders are most common, are compounded by a lack of support from old age psychiatry services. Effective psychological therapies may not be readily available to sufferers.

CONCLUSION:

There is a need for change in the conceptualisation and nosology of the somatoform disorders. The formulation of age appropriate diagnostic criteria and presentations is a prerequisite for determining the clinical validity of these disorders in older people. This can be followed by study of their frequency, associated risk factors and treatment. A system of education that enhances the management of these disorders within primary care and old age psychiatry services is needed.

Comment in

PMID:
12949849
DOI:
10.1002/gps.925
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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