Assessing medically unexplained symptoms: Evaluation of a shortened version of the SOMS for use in primary care

  • Fabião C
  • Silva M
  • Barbosa A
 et al. 
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BACKGROUND: To investigate the validity and stability of a Portuguese version for the Screening for Somatoform Symptoms-2 (SOMS-2) in primary care (PC) settings.

METHODS: An adapted version of the SOMS-2 was filled in by persons attending a PC unit. All medically unexplained symptoms were further ascertained in a clinical interview and by contacting the patient's physicians and examining medical records, attaining a final clinical symptom evaluation (FCSE). An interview yielded the diagnosis of Clinical Somatization (CS) and the diagnosis of current depressive and anxiety disorders.

RESULTS: From the eligible subjects, 167 agreed to participate and 34.1% of them were diagnosed with somatization. The correlation between the number of self-reported and FCSE symptoms was 0.63. After excluding symptoms with low frequency, low discriminative power and not correlated with the overall scale, 29 were retained in the final version. A cut-off of 4 symptoms gave a sensitivity of 86.0% and a specificity of 95.5% on the FCSE and 56.1% and 93.6% at self-report. Stability in the number of symptoms after 6 months was good (k = 0.57).

CONCLUSIONS: The 29 symptoms version of the SOMS-2 with a cut-off of 4 showed a high specificity and sensitivity, being reliable as a referral tool for further specialized diagnosis.

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  • Cristina Fabião

  • MC C. Silva

  • António Barbosa

  • Manuela Fleming

  • Winfried Rief

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