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J Clin Epidemiol. 2003 Oct;56(10):1021-6.

Reporting of somatic symptoms as a screening marker for detecting major depression in a population of Japanese white-collar workers.

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Department of Hygiene and Public Health, School of Medicine, Teikyo University, 2-11-1, Kaga, Itabashi, Tokyo 173-8605, Japan.



The objective of this study was to assess screening practices for detecting major depression in workers complaining of somatic symptoms.


A total of 1443 Japanese white-collar workers (991 men and 452 women, mean age 34 years) completed a medical symptom checklist (major 12 somatic symptoms) and were diagnosed using the structured clinical interviews of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV).


There were 42 cases (2.9%) with major depression in the total sample. Of the 902 subjects without somatic symptoms, only one (0.1%) was identified as having major depression. The prevalence of the disorder was positively associated (P<.001) with the total number of somatic symptoms, and the area under the receiver operator characteristic curve was 0.92 for men and 0.81 for women, which showed the sensitivity and specificity of the total number of somatic symptoms for detecting major depression.


The number of reported somatic symptoms is a simple and useful predictor of major depression.

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