Open Access Open Badges Research article

Type D personality is a risk factor for psychosomatic symptoms and musculoskeletal pain among adolescents: a cross-sectional study of a large population-based cohort of Swedish adolescents

Emelie Condén1*, Jerzy Leppert1, Lisa Ekselius2 and Cecilia Åslund1

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Clinical Research, Uppsala University, Central Hospital, S-721 89, Västerås, Sweden

2 Department of Neuroscience, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

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BMC Pediatrics 2013, 13:11  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-13-11

Published: 21 January 2013



Type D personality, or the “distressed personality”, is a psychosocial factor associated with negative health outcomes, although its impact in younger populations is unclear. The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence of Type D personality and the associations between Type D personality and psychosomatic symptoms and musculoskeletal pain among adolescences.


A population-based, self-reported cross-sectional study conducted in Västmanland, Sweden with a cohort of 5012 students in the age between 15–18 years old. The participants completed the anonymous questionnaire Survey of Adolescent Life in Västmanland 2008 during class hour. Psychosomatic symptoms and musculoskeletal pain were measured through index measuring the presence of symptoms and how common they were. DS14 and its two component subscales of negative affectivity (NA) and social inhibition (SI) were measured as well.


There was a difference depending on sex, where 10.4% among boys and 14.6% among girls (p = < 0.001) were defined as Type D personality. Boys and girls with a Type D personality had an approximately 2-fold increased odds of musculoskeletal pain and a 5-fold increased odds of psychosomatic symptoms. The subscale NA explained most of the relationship between Type D personality and psychosomatic symptoms and musculoskeletal pain. No interaction effect of NA and SI was found.


There was a strong association between Type D personality and both psychosomatic symptoms and musculoskeletal pain where adolescent with a type D personality reported more symptoms. The present study contributes to the mapping of the influence of Type D on psychosomatic symptoms and musculoskeletal pain among adolescents.

Adolescents; Musculoskeletal pain; Negative affectivity; Psychosomatic symptoms; Social inhibition; Type D personality