Original Research

Familial and socio-economic correlates of somatisation disorder

Abimbola M. Obimakinde, Modupe M. Ladipo, Achiaka E. Irabor
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 7, No 1 | a746 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v7i1.746 | © 2015 Abimbola M. Obimakinde, Modupe M. Ladipo, Achiaka E. Irabor | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 July 2014 | Published: 11 May 2015

About the author(s)

Abimbola M. Obimakinde, Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria
Modupe M. Ladipo, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria
Achiaka E. Irabor, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria


Background: Somatisation disorder can result from an interplay between suboptimal family environment and socio-economic deprivation, which enhances the underlying cognitive tendency for this disorder. There are pertinent familial and socio-economic factors associated with this disorder, but research addressing this is sparse.

Aim and setting: The study aims to evaluate family and socio-economic factors that are associated with somatisation disorder amongst patients presenting to the Family Medicine clinic, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria.

Methods: This is an observational case-control study of 120 participants who presented to the clinic between May and August 2009. Data collection was by interviewer-administered structured questionnaire using the World Health Organization Screener for Somatoform Disorder and Somatoform Disorder Schedule to ascertain somatisation in 60 patients who were then matched with 60 controls. The respondents’ demographic and family data were also collected and their interpersonal relationships were assessed with the Family Relationship Index.

Results: The somatising patients were mostly females (70%), with a female to male ratio of 2.3:1 and mean age of 43.65 ± 13.04 years.Living in a polygamous family (as any member of the family) was significantly related to somatisation (p = 0.04). Somatisation was also more common in people who were separated, divorced or widowed (p = 0.039). Somatisers from a lower social class or those earning below a dollar a day experienced poorer cohesion (p = 0.042) and more conflicts (p = 0.019) in their interpersonal relationship.

Conclusion: This study was able to demonstrate that a polygamous family setting, disrupted marriage, low social status and financial constraints are correlates of somatisation. It is of essence to identify these factors in holistic management of somatising patients.


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