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Am J Public Health. 1985 Sep;75(9):1080-4.

An exploration of somatization among Asian refugees and immigrants in primary care.


The clinical records of Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Laotian, and Mien patients in primary care were reviewed to determine the prevalence of somatization, its associated patient characteristics, and the manifested illness behavior. Patients in this study were generally poor, unemployed, and spoke little English. Somatization accounted for 35 per cent of illness visits. These visits were also more costly. Refugees had a higher rate of somatization (42.7 per cent) than immigrants (27.1 per cent). Although sociodemographic characteristics did not strongly differentiate patients with somatization from others, ethnicity and indicators of decreased resources such as large households with low income, households headed by single women, or a limited English proficiency were associated with somatization in certain ethnic groups. Somatization is thus an important health problem among Asian refugees and immigrants.

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