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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 44 (2002) 3, 161 - 172

New research

Dissociative symptoms in psychiatric outpatients

H.N. Sno, H.F.A. Schalken, W. op den Velde, P.G.H. Aarts

background Due to the paucity of epidemiological data the clinical relevance of dissociative symptoms may have been underexposed.
aim To obtain information on the nature and frequency of dissociative symptoms in psychiatric outpatients.
method During two years, all new patients were asked to complete five self administered questionnaires. Patients were classified according to the DSM(Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders). Besides, their clinical global impression score (CGI score) was assessed and relevant sociodemographic and somatic data were noted.
results Of 500 patients 386 (77,2%) completed the questionnaires. The mean score on the Dissociative Experience Scale (DES) was 12,5. The prevalences of 'normal' dissociative symptoms were highest and those of the more pathological symptoms were lowest. Thirty-three (8,6%) patients scored 30 or higher, and 47 (12,2%) scored 25 or higher. A significant relationship was noted between the mean DES-score and age, cultural background, religion, CGI, SCL-90 (Symptom Checklist), DSM diagnoses in axis II (particularly cluster B) and soft drug use.
conclusion A goal-oriented assessment will reveal more dissociative symptoms than found by formal mental examination of psychiatric outpatients. Specifically chosen questions on dissociative symptoms may be of help in evaluating the severity of the psychiatric disturbance, distress, the presence of a personality disorder or substance abuse, and with Turkish patients.

keywords des, dissociative symptoms, outpatient, psychiatric