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Does family of origin functioning predict adult somatic complaints?

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It has long been believed that adult somatic complaints are associated with early family dysfunction. Yet, few studies have examined this hypothesis in community samples, where medically unexplained symptom complaints are estimated to be very common. Given the potential population-wide impact of subthreshold symptom complaints as well as questions about the extent to which findings with patient populations generalize to broader samples of community adults, the present study examines the influence of distal family factors on current adult somatic complaints relative to demographic and other psychosocial predictors. Results based on multiple linear regression analysis indicated that, after controlling for the other variables, family-of-origin functioning did not predict adult somatic complaints. However, self-reported symptoms of current depressed mood and low internal locus of control were significantly linked to somatic complaints (p =0.001). These results lend support to questions about the generalizability of findings based on psychiatric groups to broader community samples, highlight the robust relationship between contemporaneous attributions of lower internal control, depressed mood, and somatic complaints, and suggest that early family environment may not be the most important focus of attention for health professionals providing care to adults in the community.
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Keywords: Family; Somatic complaints

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology University of Missouri-Kansas City 4825 Troost Building Kansas City MO 64110-2499 USA 2: Baylor College of Medicine Houston Texas 3: University of Nevada School of Medicine at Reno

Publication date: August 1, 2004

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