Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction (SOD) is a biliary disorder with a recognized pathophysiology and demonstrated surgical treatment. We sought to examine whether women with SOD were overrepresented on measures of somatization, sexual and physical abuse, socially compliant attitudes, and familial psychiatric illness.
We matched 33 women with SOD to 33 normal controls by age, sex, and race, and, with a case-controlled cross-sectional questionnaire, compared the groups on the study variables. Statistics included a chi squared for categorical variables, t tests for scores of somatization and attitudes of social desirability, and Pearson correlation coefficients for post hoc associations of variables. Bonferroni corrections were used with chi squared values to reduce capitalization by chance.
SOD patients exhibited excessive nongastroenterological somatic complaints compared with controls (p<.0001). There was a statistical increase in reports of childhood sexual, but not physical, abuse in the SOD women (p<.02) compared with controls. The severity of the abuse correlated strongly with the severity of somatic complaints. There were no differences in social desirability attitudes or family psychiatric histories of the two groups.
We conclude that SOD is associated with a high degree of somatization in adulthood, and a mean rate more than four times that of controls in self-reports of sexual abuse in childhood. The severity of childhood sexual abuse is correlated with the severity of somatization in later life. A psychological model for this disorder is suggested by the data. Increased psychiatric attention is indicated in the treatment of women with this disorder.