<imgsrc=”” border=”0″ align=”left” alt=”image”>Objective
Up to 10% of the general population experiences persistent somatic symptoms (PSS). Numerous studies in a variety of health domains are dedicated to identifying factors that are associated with PSS onset. The present study aimed to provide an overview of predictors for PSS onset in the general population and the related health domains.
A systematic search was performed identifying longitudinal cohort studies that examined factors associated with PSS onset in the general population. Included studies measured potential predictors before PSS onset and were categorized according to the dynamic biopsychosocial model. Four levels of evidence were discerned for predictors, based on the number of studies and percentage of consistent findings.
In the 154 articles eligible for analysis, 27 PSS subtypes were studied, with primary focus on fibromyalgia (25.0%) and irritable bowel syndrome (23.3%). Of the >250 predictors of PSS onset, 46 were investigated more than once and showed consistent results. Strong evidence identifies biological (e.g., infections, body weight–related metrics), psychological (e.g., sleep problems, psychopathology), interpersonal (life events, childhood/interpersonal stress), contextual (employment), and health behavioral (health care utilization) predictors.
The results provide strong evidence for factors from all dynamic biopsychosocial domains, although interpersonal and health behavioral factors are relatively under investigated. Thus, evidence suggests that reduction of predictors of PSS onset to a specific factor/domain may be too restrictive. There is no evidence that this differs per PSS subtype. Exploring all domains and measuring common factors across subtypes are essential to improve the clinical course of PSS.