Somatization, somatosensory amplification, attribution styles and illness behaviour: A review

V. Duddu, Mohan Isaac, S.K. Chaturvedi

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

    107 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Somatic symptoms have been conceptualized in many different ways in literature. Current classifications mainly focus on the numbers of symptoms, with relative neglect of the underlying psychopathology. Researchers have emphasized the importance of a number of experiential, perceptual and cognitive-behavioural aspects of somatization. This review focuses on existing literature on the role of somatosensory amplification, attribution styles, and illness behaviour in somatization. Evidence suggests that somatosensory amplification is neither sensitive nor specific to somatizing states, and that other factors like anxiety, depression, neuroticism, alexithymia may also have an influence. Attribution research supports the existence of multiple causal attributions, which are related to the numbers of somatic symptoms. While somatizing patients have more organic attributions, depressed patients have more psychological attributions. A global somatic attribution style is associated with the number of obscure somatic symptoms, while a psychological attribution style is associated with both-psychological and somatic- symptoms of depression and anxiety. There are conflicting findings with respect to the role of normalizing attributions in reducing physician recognition of anxiety and depression. Specific symptom attributions appear to explain physician recognition of psychological distress, but global attribution styles do not appear to explain any further variance in physician recognition beyond that explained by specific causal attributions. Illness behaviour has been studied in two distinct ways in literature. Research focusing on attendance rates as a form of illness behaviour suggests that somatization is associated with high levels of health care utilization. There is also some evidence that health care utilization, amplification and attributions styles may be interrelated among somatizing patients. More structured ways to assess illness behaviour have found high levels of abnormal illness behaviour in this population. Overall, research appears to suggest a complex ( and as yet unclear) relationship between somatic symptoms and underlying cognitions/illness behaviours. While it is clear that somatization is closely related to a number of perceptual and cognitive-behavioural factors, the precise nature of these relationships are yet to be elucidated.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)25-33
    JournalInternational Review of Psychiatry
    Volume18
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2006

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    Illness Behavior
    Patient Acceptance of Health Care
    Psychology
    Anxiety
    Depression
    Physicians
    Research
    Affective Symptoms
    Psychopathology
    Cognition
    Health Status
    Research Personnel
    Medically Unexplained Symptoms
    Population
    Recognition (Psychology)

    Cite this

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    title = "Somatization, somatosensory amplification, attribution styles and illness behaviour: A review",
    abstract = "Somatic symptoms have been conceptualized in many different ways in literature. Current classifications mainly focus on the numbers of symptoms, with relative neglect of the underlying psychopathology. Researchers have emphasized the importance of a number of experiential, perceptual and cognitive-behavioural aspects of somatization. This review focuses on existing literature on the role of somatosensory amplification, attribution styles, and illness behaviour in somatization. Evidence suggests that somatosensory amplification is neither sensitive nor specific to somatizing states, and that other factors like anxiety, depression, neuroticism, alexithymia may also have an influence. Attribution research supports the existence of multiple causal attributions, which are related to the numbers of somatic symptoms. While somatizing patients have more organic attributions, depressed patients have more psychological attributions. A global somatic attribution style is associated with the number of obscure somatic symptoms, while a psychological attribution style is associated with both-psychological and somatic- symptoms of depression and anxiety. There are conflicting findings with respect to the role of normalizing attributions in reducing physician recognition of anxiety and depression. Specific symptom attributions appear to explain physician recognition of psychological distress, but global attribution styles do not appear to explain any further variance in physician recognition beyond that explained by specific causal attributions. Illness behaviour has been studied in two distinct ways in literature. Research focusing on attendance rates as a form of illness behaviour suggests that somatization is associated with high levels of health care utilization. There is also some evidence that health care utilization, amplification and attributions styles may be interrelated among somatizing patients. More structured ways to assess illness behaviour have found high levels of abnormal illness behaviour in this population. Overall, research appears to suggest a complex ( and as yet unclear) relationship between somatic symptoms and underlying cognitions/illness behaviours. While it is clear that somatization is closely related to a number of perceptual and cognitive-behavioural factors, the precise nature of these relationships are yet to be elucidated.",
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    Somatization, somatosensory amplification, attribution styles and illness behaviour: A review. / Duddu, V.; Isaac, Mohan; Chaturvedi, S.K.

    In: International Review of Psychiatry, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2006, p. 25-33.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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    AB - Somatic symptoms have been conceptualized in many different ways in literature. Current classifications mainly focus on the numbers of symptoms, with relative neglect of the underlying psychopathology. Researchers have emphasized the importance of a number of experiential, perceptual and cognitive-behavioural aspects of somatization. This review focuses on existing literature on the role of somatosensory amplification, attribution styles, and illness behaviour in somatization. Evidence suggests that somatosensory amplification is neither sensitive nor specific to somatizing states, and that other factors like anxiety, depression, neuroticism, alexithymia may also have an influence. Attribution research supports the existence of multiple causal attributions, which are related to the numbers of somatic symptoms. While somatizing patients have more organic attributions, depressed patients have more psychological attributions. A global somatic attribution style is associated with the number of obscure somatic symptoms, while a psychological attribution style is associated with both-psychological and somatic- symptoms of depression and anxiety. There are conflicting findings with respect to the role of normalizing attributions in reducing physician recognition of anxiety and depression. Specific symptom attributions appear to explain physician recognition of psychological distress, but global attribution styles do not appear to explain any further variance in physician recognition beyond that explained by specific causal attributions. Illness behaviour has been studied in two distinct ways in literature. Research focusing on attendance rates as a form of illness behaviour suggests that somatization is associated with high levels of health care utilization. There is also some evidence that health care utilization, amplification and attributions styles may be interrelated among somatizing patients. More structured ways to assess illness behaviour have found high levels of abnormal illness behaviour in this population. Overall, research appears to suggest a complex ( and as yet unclear) relationship between somatic symptoms and underlying cognitions/illness behaviours. While it is clear that somatization is closely related to a number of perceptual and cognitive-behavioural factors, the precise nature of these relationships are yet to be elucidated.

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