Section 11
Chapter 10,144

Alexithymia, hypochondriacal beliefs, and psychological distress among frequent attenders in primary health care

Jyväsjärvi, S.; Joukamaa, M.; Väisänen, E.; Larivaara, P.; Kivelä, S.L.; Keinänen-Kiukaanniemi, S.

Comprehensive Psychiatry 40(4): 292-298


ISSN/ISBN: 0010-440X
PMID: 10428189
DOI: 10.1016/s0010-440x(99)90130-x
Accession: 010143048

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Frequent use of health services has been associated with such concepts as alexithymia, hypochondriasis, and psychological distress. The aim of this case-control study was firstly to assess whether alexithymia, hypochondriasis, and psychological distress are associated with frequent attendance and secondly to assess the gender differences of these associations in a primary health care setting. A sample of 304 frequent attenders (eight or more visits during 1 year), including all of the frequent attenders during 1994, and 304 randomly selected age- and sex-matched controls were selected. Half of the sample (every second individual selected in date-of-birth order) was invited for an interview, 113 frequent attenders and 107 controls completed a questionnaire during the interview. Alexithymia was measured with the Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20 (TAS-20), hypochondriasis was screened with the Whiteley Index (WI), and Symptom Checklist-36 (SCL-36) was used to determine psychological distress.We found a distinct gender difference in the associations of these characteristics with frequent attending. Significant associations of alexithymia, hypochondriasis, and psychological distress with frequent attending were found among men, but not among women. Alexithymia, hypochondriasis, and psychological distress should be considered when treating frequent attenders, especially males.

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