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Int Rev Psychiatry. 2012 Dec;24(6):556-67. doi: 10.3109/09540261.2012.741063.

Emerging themes in the revision of the classification of somatoform disorders.

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School of Community-based Medicine, University of Manchester, UK.


The somatoform disorders, as currently defined in DSM-IV and ICD-10, have been criticized for their complexity and poor clinical utility. In this paper we consider these criticisms as well as the conceptual question of whether there is sufficient evidence for classifying them as mental and behavioural disorders. The review suggests that, as currently defined, somatoform disorders do not fulfil a recently articulated set of criteria for mental and behavioural disorders. In particular, the disorders are not defined according to positive psychological and behavioural disorders and evidence is sparse to support their classification as different and distinct diagnoses. Any revision of the disorders should not be based on 'medically unexplained' symptoms. Rather, the relevant diagnoses should include a combination of bothersome somatic symptoms with several other psychological features including beliefs about somatic symptoms and evidence of marked concerns about health and illness. Finally, the review presents a set of proposals for the revision of these disorders, by the Somatic Disorders and Dissociative Disorders Working Group of the WHO International Advisory Group for the Revision of ICD-10 Mental and Behavioural Disorders, which attempt to take account of the criticisms and current understanding of somatic experiences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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