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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 55 (2013) 8, 599 - 608

New research

A description of children and adolescents with somatic unexplained physical symptoms in a Dutch mental health care institution

M.E.J. Kouijzer, F. Loman, C.M. van der Feltz-Cornelis

Summary
background Medically unexplained symptoms (mus) occur frequently in children and adolescents. Treatment of mus in children and adolescents takes place mainly in mental health care (mhc) institutions, as does the treatment of adults with mus. However, there is hardly any literature about the prevalence of mus in children and adolescents in mhc.
aim To study the prevalence of mus in children and adolescents in Dutch mhc.
method Comparisons were drawn between children and adolescents with mus and those without mus who had been referred to a Dutch mhc institution.
results Children and adolescents with mus had more anxiety and depression and more introvert personality characteristics than children and adolescents without mus. However, the quality of life of children and adolescents with mus was similar to that of children and adolescents without mus.
conclusion One in five children and adolescents in Dutch mhc had mus. These children and adolescents had introverted personality characteristics and showed anxious and depressed behavior, withdrawn-depressed behavior, and thought problems. The quality of life of children and adolescents with mus and those without mus was below average.

keywords children and adolescents, medically unexplained symptoms (MUS)