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Somatization is Correlated with Health-related Quality of Life in Children with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Study Reveals

A recent study has revealed that somatization is correlated with health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in children with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Furthermore, somatization consistently drives HRQoL in healthy controls (HC) to the exclusion of other psychosocial concerns.

Photo: Child Suffering Stomach Pain | InStyleHealth

What is somatization?

Somatic symptom disorder which is formerly known as “somatization disorder” is a form of mental illness that causes one or more bodily symptoms, including pain. The symptoms may or may not be traceable to a physical cause including general medical conditions, other mental illnesses, or substance abuse. However, they cause excessive and disproportionate levels of distress.

Comparing the relative associations of abdominal pain and psychosocial distress with HRQoL in HC and IBS, the experts collected baseline abdominal pain, psychosocial distress, and HRQoL measures from HC and IBS pediatric clinical trial participants.

A regression analysis was performed to identify which measures most strongly associated with physical and psychosocial HRQoL separately by group. Interaction analyses were also performed to assess group differences in the correlations of abdominal pain and psychosocial distress with HRQoL.

In general, there were 213 children with IBS and 85 HC were analyzed. Somatization and functional ability revealed the strongest correlation with physical HRQoL in HC and IBS, correspondingly. Somatization was also most strongly correlated with psychosocial HRQoL for both cohorts. Moreover, depression significantly associated with healthy controls (HC).

The between-group difference was noted in the strength of correlation between somatization and physical HRQoL, with the negative correlation being less pronounced for IBS than HC. Also, there was a significantly between-group difference in the correlation between functional disability and both physical and psychosocial HRQoL, with negative correlations being more pronounced for IBS than HC.

Researchers said that associations of somatization and functional disability with HRQoL are distinctly different between HC and IBS. This knowledge supports utilization of psychosocial interventions to improve overall well-being for children with IBS.


Source: J Clin Gastroenterol 2021;55:422-428

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