High prevalence of somatic symptoms in a semi-rural Chilean population and its association with depression and anxiety

Carlos Sandana, Patricia Bustos, Hugo Amigo, Andrea Canals, Roberto Jorge Rona

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Purpose: To study the prevalence of mental disorders with an emphasis on somatic symptoms and their association with social support in a Chilean semi-rural area.
Methods: We studied a sample of 796 adults born between 1974
and 1978 in Limache, Chile. The Patient Health Questionnaire-9, the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7, the Patient Health Questionnaire-15, the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test and the Medical Outcomes Study Social
Support Scale test were used to assess depression, anxiety, somatic symptoms, alcohol misuse and social support respectively.
Results: The prevalence of psychosomatic symptoms was 63.8% in women (most of them in the severe range) and 34.1% in men. The rates of depression, anxiety and alcohol misuse were 17.7%, 21.7%, and 9.7% respectively. Psychosomatic symptoms were strongly associated with depression (OR=14.2, 95%CI:7.5-26.9) and anxiety (OR=7.34, 95%CI:4.6-11.6). Psychosomatic symptoms were associated with functional impairment (OR=5.91, 95% CI 2.7-12.7) and the association was mainly due to symptoms of depression and anxiety. Mental disorders were inversely associated with social support.
Conclusions: Psychosomatic symptoms were the norm, especially in women. Social support is marginally lower in those with a mental disorder, but still perceived as high. Physical complains in these communities are frequently the expression of depression and anxiety.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberRCCM-2017-0057
JournalInternational Journal of Culture and Mental Health
Early online date21 Mar 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Mar 2018


  • Somatic symptoms, depression, anxiety, population study, social support


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