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Open Access Research article

Mediators between bereavement and somatic symptoms

Barna Konkolÿ Thege, János Pilling*, Zoltán Cserháti and Maria S Koppˆ

Author Affiliations

Institute of Behavioral Sciences, Semmelweis University, Nagyvárad tér 4, Budapest, H-1089, Hungary

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BMC Family Practice 2012, 13:59  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-13-59

Published: 18 June 2012

Abstract

Background

In our research we examined the frequency of somatic symptoms among bereaved (N = 185) and non-bereaved men and women in a national representative sample (N = 4041) and investigated the possible mediating factors between bereavement status and somatic symptoms.

Methods

Somatic symptoms were measured by the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-15), anxiety with a four-point anxiety rating scale, and depression with a nine-item shortened version of the Beck Depression Inventory.

Results

Among the bereaved, somatic symptoms proved to be significantly more frequent in both genders when compared to the non-bereaved, as did anxiety and depression. On the multivariate level, the results show that both anxiety and depression proved to be a mediator between somatic symptoms and bereavement. The effect sizes indicated that for both genders, anxiety was a stronger predictor of somatic symptoms than depression.

Conclusions

The results of our research indicate that somatic symptoms accompanying bereavement are not direct consequences of this state but they can be traced back to the associated anxiety and depression. These results draw attention to the need to recognize anxiety and depression looming in the background of somatic complaints in bereavement and to the importance of the dissemination of related information.

Keywords:
Anxiety; Bereavement; Depression; Gender differences; Somatic symptoms