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01-10-2009 | Uitgave 8/2009

Quality of Life Research 8/2009

Somatization is associated with physical health-related quality of life independent of anxiety and depression in cancer, glaucoma and rheumatological disorders

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 8/2009
Thomas Hyphantis, Barbara Tomenson, Vassiliki Paika, Augoustina Almyroudi, Chrisavgi Pappa, Niki Tsifetaki, Paraskevi V. Voulgari, Alexandros A. Drosos, Nicholas Pavlidis, Francis Creed



To test the relative importance of anxiety, depression and somatization as correlates of physical health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in several chronic physical disorders.


In a cross-sectional study of patients with colorectal cancer (N = 162), glaucoma (N = 100), rheumatoid arthritis (N = 168), systemic sclerosis (N = 56) and systemic lupus erythematosus (N = 56), we assessed specific disease severity and used the Symptom Distress Checklist (SCL-90) for psychologic dimensions. Outcome was assessed with the WHO Quality of Life Instrument, Short Form using hierarchical regression to determine independent correlates of HRQOL.


After adjustment for demographic features, stage of cancer and pain (final models), the SCL-90 somatization score was the only psychologic distress covariate significantly correlated to physical HRQOL in all diseases (Betas between −0.33 and −0.49) except in systemic sclerosis and scleroderma, where depression was also a correlate. In glaucoma patients, the SCL-90 somatization score was the only significant covariate for physical HRQOL in the final model.


Since reported number of bodily symptoms is both associated with physical HRQOL and treatable in its own right, our findings suggest a possible new avenue to improve the HRQOL in patients with chronic physical disease. Whether this offers greater benefit than treatments for anxiety and depression needs further research.

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