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Latent Variable Models of Functional Somatic Distress

ROBBINS, JAMES M. Ph.D.1; KIRMAYER, LAURENCE J. M.D.2; HEMAMI, SHAHLA M.Sc.2

Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease: October 1997 - Volume 185 - Issue 10 - pp 606-615
Articles

Latent variable models of functional somatic symptoms were estimated for a sample of 686 family medicine patients. Symptom items from the NIMH Diagnostic Interview Schedule were selected to approximate diagnoses of fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Confirmatory factor analysis demonstrated that hypothesized latent variables of somatic depression, somatic anxiety, FM-like, CF-like, and IB-like syndromes fit the observed covariations better than models hypothesizing fewer latent variables. Results offer tentative confirmation of functional somatic syndromes as discrete entities and suggest that relaxing the diagnostic criteria for somatization may identify individuals with distress limited to a single functional system.

1 Department of Pediatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Arkansas Children's Hospital, 800 Marshall Street, Little Rock, Arkansas 72202.

2 Institute of Community and Family Psychiatry, Sir Mortimer B. Davis-Jewish General Hospital, 4333 Chemin de la Côte Ste-Catherine, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3T 1E4.

Send reprint requests to Dr. Robbins.

Preparation of this article was supported in part by a grant from the Conseil québécois de la récherche sociale.

We thank Ruth Nabi who coordinated data collection for this project and Sherri Tepper who assisted with data analysis.

© Williams & Wilkins 1997. All Rights Reserved.