Distinct associations of DSM-5 Somatic Symptom Disorder, the Diagnostic Criteria for Psychosomatic Research-Revised (DCPR-R) and symptom severity in patients with irritable bowel syndrome

Porcelli P1, De Carne M2, Leandro G2. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2020 Mar 18;64:56-62. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2020.03.004. [Epub ahead of print]


Author information

1 Department of Psychological, Health, and Territorial Sciences, University of Chieti, Italy. Electronic address: piero.porcelli@unich.it.

2 Department of Gastroenterology, Scientific Institute for Digestive Disease "Saverio de Bellis" Hospital, Castellana Grotte, Italy.


OBJECTIVE: The clinical management of high symptom severity is a challenging task with patients with functional somatic disorders. We investigated the extent to which DCPR-revised (DCPR-R) syndromes and the DSM-5 category of Somatic Symptom Disorder (SSD) were able to predict symptom severity in 203 consecutive tertiary care patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

METHOD: Semistructured interview were used for assessing DCPR-R and validated scales for SSD (combining PHQ-12 and WI-7), severity of symptoms (IBS-SSS), psychological distress (HADS), and psychosocial functioning (SF-12).

RESULTS: Compared to moderate severity (IBS-SSS = 175-300), patients in the high range of severity (IBS-SSS > 300) had significantly more DCPR-R syndromes (particularly alexithymia and persistent somatization), higher psychological distress, and poorer psychosocial functioning, but showed no difference for SSD. DCPR-R, particularly alexithymia and persistent somatization, significantly and independently predicted IBS severity by explaining 18.5% of the IBS-SSS variance with large effect size (d = 1.18), after controlling for covariables. Conversely, SSD was not able to significantly predict IBS severity.

CONCLUSIONS: This study highlights the need of an integrative approach in the medical setting. Psychosomatic factors play a relevant role in the individual perception of symptom severity and should be carefully evaluated for clinical management of functional syndromes.

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