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Somatization in abused women
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Medical Psychology. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Gender and medicine. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Östergötlands Läns Landsting, Centre of Paediatrics and Gynecology and Obstetrics, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics in Linköping.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8234-5461
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Medical Psychology. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
2007 (English)In: Journal of Women's Health, ISSN 1059-7115, E-ISSN 2168-7668, Vol. 16, no 6, 909-918 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: The association between abuse and somatization has been less systematically investigated than other abuse-related outcomes. Moreover, such studies have given inconsistent results. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate the relation between somatization and lifetime exposure to physical, sexual, and psychological abuse.

Methods: A total of 800 women, 400 reporting abuse and 400 reporting no abuse in a previous randomized, population-based study, were sent two questionnaires: SOMAT, a questionnaire on somatization, and the Abuse Inventory (AI). Of 781 eligible women, 547 participated (70% response rate).

Results: Psychological abuse of both limited (6 months–2 years) and prolonged duration (>2 years) was associated with somatization (OR = 2.45, 95% CI 1.37-4.40 and OR = 3.09, 95% CI 1.52-6.30, respectively). Sexual abuse without penetration was associated with somatization (OR = 2.47, 95% CI 1.17-5.20), but sexual abuse with penetration was not. Physical abuse was not associated with somatization when adjustments for other kinds of abuse were made. Being abused in adulthood and in both adulthood and childhood was associated with somatization (OR = 4.20, 95% CI 2.45-7.20 and OR = 2.90, 95% CI 1.69-4.90, respectively), whereas being abused in childhood only was not.

Conclusions: Abuse of women is associated with somatization. Other factors than severity of abuse, such as whether the abused woman herself perceives her experience as abuse, seem to be more decisive for developing somatization in abused women. Abuse should be taken into account when meeting women with somatization symptoms as patients.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 16, no 6, 909-918 p.
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-14532DOI: 10.1089/jwh.2006.0103OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-14532DiVA: diva2:23659
Available from: 2007-05-23 Created: 2007-05-23 Last updated: 2017-12-13
In thesis
1. Abused Women: Health, Somatization, and Posttraumatic Stress
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Abused Women: Health, Somatization, and Posttraumatic Stress
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aims of this thesis were to estimate the lifetime prevalence of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse in a random population-based sample of women aged 18-60 years; to estimate current suffering thereof; and to investigate associations between abuse and health problems, more specifically to study abuse related variables associated with somatization and PTSD, respectively.

The studies had a cross-sectional design. Studies I and II comprised 4150 women 18-60 years. Study III included 547 women, and study IV consisted of 213 women, randomly selected from the population-based sample of the first two studies.

The first study found lifetime prevalence rates of 19.4% for physical abuse, 9.2% for sexual abuse, and 18.2% for psychological abuse. Abused women reported more ill-health and a less advantageous social situation than non-abused women. There was an association between magnitude of abuse and health problems. Even a low magnitude of abuse was substantially associated with ill-health. In the second study we found that of the 27.5% of women who had reported any kind of abuse in the first study, 69.5 % reported current suffering thereof. Abused suffering women reported more health problems than abused non-suffering women and non-abused women, and abused non-suffering women reported more health problems than non-abused women. In study three, psychological abuse and sexual abuse without penetration were found to be associated with somatization. Physical abuse and sexual abuse with penetration were not associated with somatization, when adjustments for other kinds of abuse were made. In study four, PTSD and somatization were found to be separately reported phenomena in abused women, although PTSD was positively associated with having somatic symptoms. Women with PTSD reported higher total magnitude of abuse and a higher number of perpetrators than women with somatization. Sexually abused women with PTSD more often described their experience as an act of abuse compared with sexually abused women with somatization.

The present thesis demonstrates that even a low magnitude of abuse is associated with health problems. It also shows that a majority of the abused women, when investigating lifetime history of abuse, reported current suffering thereof, which warrants considering abuse an important societal problem. The relationship between somatization and posttraumatic stress in abused women is discussed in relation to abuse variables. Other factors than severity of abuse, such as whether the abused woman herself perceives her experience as abuse, seem to be more decisive for development of somatization in abused women. The findings suggest that PTSD is not a necessary mediator between abuse and somatization.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Institutionen för molekylär och klinisk medicin, 2007
Series
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 1007
Keyword
Abuse, Prevalence, Psychological health, Somatization, Posttraumatic stress
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-8942 (URN)978-91-85831-90-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-06-08, Aulan, Hälsans Hus, Campus US, Linköpings Universitet, Linköping, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2007-05-23 Created: 2007-05-23 Last updated: 2013-09-03

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Samelius, CharlottaWijma, BarbroWingren, GunWimja, Klaas

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Medical PsychologyFaculty of Health SciencesGender and medicineDepartment of Gynecology and Obstetrics in LinköpingOccupational and Environmental Medicine
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Journal of Women's Health
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