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Psychosom Med. 1988 Sep-Oct;50(5):510-9.

The amplification of somatic symptoms.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.


We studied the role of somatosensory amplification, as measured by a self-report questionnaire, in symptomatology, overall discomfort, and disability in 115 patients with upper-respiratory-tract infections who visited an adult medical walk-in clinic. Multiple regression analyses indicated that amplification was a statistically significant predictor of the patients' localized but not systemic symptoms, of reported overall discomfort, and of their social and vocational disability. These relationships held true while controlling for differences in medical morbidity and sociodemographic characteristics. Amplification was closely related to, but distinct from, three measures of dysphoria: depression, anxiety, and hostility. The tendency to amplify a broad range of bodily sensations may therefore be an important factor in experiencing, reporting, and functioning with an acute and relatively mild medical illness.

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