Systematic review of measurement properties of questionnaires measuring somatization in primary care patients

Kate Sitnikova, Sandra M.A. Dijkstra-Kersten, Lidwine B. Mokkink, Berend Terluin, Harm W.J. van Marwijk, Stephanie S. Leone, Henriëtte E. van der Horst, Johannes C. van der Wouden

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Objective The aim of this review is to critically appraise the evidence on measurement properties of self-report questionnaires measuring somatization in adult primary care patients and to provide recommendations about which questionnaires are most useful for this purpose. Methods We assessed the methodological quality of included studies using the COnsensus-based Standards for the selection of health Measurement INstruments (COSMIN) checklist. To draw overall conclusions about the quality of the questionnaires, we conducted an evidence synthesis using predefined criteria for judging the measurement properties. Results We found 24 articles on 9 questionnaires. Studies on the Patient Health Questionnaire-15 (PHQ-15) and the Four-Dimensional Symptom Questionnaire (4DSQ) somatization subscale prevailed and covered the broadest range of measurement properties. These questionnaires had the best internal consistency, test-retest reliability, structural validity, and construct validity. The PHQ-15 also had good criterion validity, whereas the 4DSQ somatization subscale was validated in several languages. The Bodily Distress Syndrome (BDS) checklist had good internal consistency and structural validity. Some evidence was found for good construct validity and criterion validity of the Physical Symptom Checklist (PSC-51) and good construct validity of the Symptom Check-List (SCL-90-R) somatization subscale. However, these three questionnaires were only studied in a small number of primary care studies. Conclusion Based on our findings, we recommend the use of either the PHQ-15 or 4DSQ somatization subscale for somatization in primary care. Other questionnaires, such as the BDS checklist, PSC-51 and the SCL-90-R somatization subscale show promising results but have not been studied extensively in primary care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-62
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of psychosomatic research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • Measurement properties
  • Primary care
  • Self-report questionnaire
  • Somatization

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