Somatization Symptoms in a Primary Care Clinic at a Tertiary Hospital in Southern Nigeria


Background: Somatic symptoms that are not attributable to organic pathology are common in general practice settings however, data in most parts of Africa including southern Nigeria are still scarce. The aim of our study was to examine such somatic symptoms reported by patients attending a primary care facility at a tertiary hospital in southern Nigeria as well as to motivate future research in this area. Method: The study was conducted at the General Out Patient Clinic (GOPC) of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH). It was a cross sectional study in which data were obtained from the case notes of 115 patients that presented in the clinic with somatic complaints which could not be attributed to organic pathology by their physicians. Results: While 46 of the patients were males, 69 were females. Their mean age was 37.7 (SD = 11.9). Internal heat, crawling sensation, body pains and palpitations were the most prevalent symptoms reported by the patients. When the symptoms were sorted into various groups, the “subjective abnormal bodily sensation” was the most prevalent and far outnumbered the “pseudo neurological symptoms”. Conclusion: A number of patients attending the GOPC of the UCTH seek consultations for medically unexplained somatic symptom. The most prevalent of these symptoms are internal heat and crawling sensations both of which are not stated in the criteria recognized by the International Classification of Diseases—version 10 (ICD-10) for the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders.

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Okafor, C. , Edet, B. and Asibong, U. (2015) Somatization Symptoms in a Primary Care Clinic at a Tertiary Hospital in Southern Nigeria. Journal of Biosciences and Medicines, 3, 67-73. doi: 10.4236/jbm.2015.310009.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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