Effects of gender and marital status on somatic symptoms of patients attending a mind/body medicine clinic

Authors
Mutsuhiro Nakao, MD, MPH, Gregory Fricchione, MD, Patricia C. Zuttermeister, MA, Patricia Myers, Arthur J. Barsky, MD, Herbert Benson, MD
Publication
Behavioral Medicine
Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 159-168
Abstract

To clarify the mechanisms of gender-related mind/body relationships, the authors analyzed the characteristics of 1,132 outpatients (848 women and 284 men) attending a mind/body medicine clinic. At entry in the program, the patients completed the Medical Symptom Checklist, Symptom Checklist-90 revised (SCL-90R), and Stress Perception Scale. Women reported 9 out of 12 symptoms (fatigue, insomnia, headache, back pain, joint or limb pain, palpitations, constipation, nausea, and dizziness) more frequently than the men did. Being a woman was a predictor of the total number of somatic symptoms endorsed. SCL-90R somatization scores were significantly higher in nonmarried women than in married women. Perceived stress ratings of family and health were higher in women than in men, despite the lower degree of perceived stress concerning work. Women, especially nonmarried women, were more likely to report somatic discomfort. Gender appears to be an important factor in relation to the report of somatic symptoms in stress-related conditions.

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