Child Psychiatry & Human Development

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 569–583 | Cite as

Familial Risk Factors for the Development of Somatoform Symptoms and Disorders in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review

  • Ilva Elena Schulte
  • Franz Petermann
Review Paper


The aim of this study was to examine whether familial risk factors for the development of somatoform symptoms and somatoform disorders in children and adolescents can be deduced from studies which investigated the intergenerational transmission of functional abdominal pain and somatoform disorders. A systematic review of articles published in English and German since 1990 was performed. Twenty-three relevant studies were found. The following putative familial risk factors for the development of somatoform symptoms and somatoform disorders were identified: somatization of parents, organic disease of a significant other, psychopathology of close family members, dysfunctional family climate, traumatic experiences in childhood and insecure attachment. Most of the putative familial risk factors are associated with many other psychiatric child disorders and are therefore mostly nonspecific. Further longitudinal studies, in which comorbidity and other putative risk factors are taken into account, are needed to identify specific familial risk factors for the development of somatoform symptoms and somatoform disorders.


Somatoform disorders Familial risk factor Intergenerational transmission Childhood 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center of Clinical Psychology and RehabilitationUniversity of BremenBremenGermany

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