Objective: Few treatments for somatization have been proven effective. In the past decade, however, clinical trials of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) have been promising. Our aim was to critically review and synthesize the evidence from these trials. Methods: A search of the Medline database from 1966 through July 1999 was conducted to identify controlled trials designed to evaluate the efficacy of CBT in patients with somatization or symptom syndromes. Results: A total of 31 controlled trials (29 randomized and 2 nonrandomized) were identified. Twenty-five studies targeted a specific syndrome (e.g. chronic fatigue, irritable bowel, pain) while 6 focused on more general somatization or hypochondriasis. Primary outcome assessment included physical symptoms, psychological distress and functional status in 28, 26 and 19 studies, respectively. Physical symptoms appeared the most responsive: CBT-treated patients improved more than control subjects in 71% of the studies and showed possibly greater improvement (i.e., a trend) in another 11% of the studies. A definite or possible advantage of CBT for reducing psychological distress was demonstrated in only 38 and 8% of studies, and for improving functional status in 47 and 26%. Group therapy and interventions as brief as 5 sessions proved efficacious. Benefits were sustained for up to 12 months. Conclusion: CBT can be an effective treatment for patients with somatization or symptom syndromes. Benefits can occur whether or not psychological distress is ameliorated. Since chronic symptoms are exceptionally common and most studies were conducted in referral populations, the optimal sequencing of CBT in treating primary care patients and the identification of those most likely to accept and respond to therapy should be further evaluated.
© 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel
Number of Print Pages : 11
Number of Figures : 0, Number of Tables : 3, Number of References : 57
Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics
Founded 1953 as ‘Acta Psychotherapeutica et Psychosomatica’ by E.A.D.E. Carp and B. Stokvis, continued by Th. Spoerri (1964–1974) and P.E. Sifneos (1974–1991)
Vol. 69, No. 4, Year 2000 (Cover Date: July-August 2000)
Journal Editor: G.A. Fava, Bologna
ISSN: 0033–3190 (print), 1423–0348 (Online)
For additional information: http://www.karger.com/journals/pps
Article / Publication Details
Published online: 6/13/2000
Issue release date: July–August 2000
Number of Print Pages: 11
Number of Figures: 0
Number of Tables: 3
ISSN: 0033-3190 (Print)
eISSN: 1423-0348 (Online)
For additional information: http://www.karger.com/PPS
Copyright / Drug Dosage / Disclaimer
Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or, in the case of photocopying, direct payment of a specified fee to the Copyright Clearance Center.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.