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August 2019

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 1995 Jan; 30(1): 44-8.

Somatoform disorders in different cultures--a mail questionnaire survey.

Janca A, Isaac M, Bennett LA, Tacchini G.

Division of Mental Health, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.

A mail questionnaire survey was organized by WHO to obtain expert opinion on the cross-cultural applicability of ICD-10 definitions of somatoform disorders. A response was obtained from 42 experts in 23 countries representing all five continents. The results showed that the ICD-10 concept of somatoform disorders was generally acceptable for use across cultures. However, a number of culture-specific symptoms, characteristics and terms that do not appear in ICD-10 were found to be common and important for the diagnosis of somatoform disorders in particular cultures. Pointing out the relative restrictiveness of ICD-10 criteria for somatization disorder, the experts emphasized the usefulness of having the more inclusive category of undifferentiated somatoform disorder. The survey was organized as the starting point of the WHO International Study of Somatoform Disorders. The major goal of the study is to improve understanding of the somatic presentation of psychological disorders in different cultures.

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