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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 43 (2001) 2, 83 - 93

State-of-the-art-article

Somatoform disorders

B. van Houdenhove

background The dsm-iv category 'somatoform disorders' is currently a matter of serious debate.
aims Reviewing the recent literature on this domain, in an epidemiological, conceptual-diagnostic, etiological/pathogenetic and therapeutic perspective.
methods The content of this article is based on a Medline search (1990-1999).
results Patients with somatoform disorders are an important subgroup among people with medically unexplained symptoms. Efforts have been made to enhance the clinical usefulness of the subcategory of 'somatization disorder' in primary care. The clinical impact of these efforts, however, remains an open question. On the other hand, the exponential growth of cognitivebehavioral and neurobiological research on 'modern' functional somatic syndromes (such as chronic fatigue syndrome), may open up new perpectives towards a multidimensional, biopsychosocially- oriented diagnostic and therapeutic approach.
conclusions Although the knowledge on somatoform disorders and their treatment has increased during the last years, its translation into clinical practice still remains problematic.

keywords functional somatic syndromes, psychosomatics, somatization, somatoform disorders, unexplained somatic symptoms