Somatic Symptoms in Children from Three Ethnic Groups
The main purpose of this study is to compare the prevalence rates of somatic symptoms associated with anxiety disorders in three ethnic groups, Hispanic, African Americans, and European Americans. Probability samples of children (aged 9 to 17 years) were obtained from four geographic areas in the United States and Puerto Rico as part of Methods for the Epidemiology of Child and Adolescent Mental Disorders (MECA) study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.1 Version 2.3 of the NIMH Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC-2.3) was used at all sites to yield current diagnoses, according to DSM-III-R criteria. Nineteen somatic symptoms associated with anxiety disorders were ascertained. Results showed that after controlling for parental education, age, and gender, the average number of somatic symptoms did not differ by ethnic group, except for cardiovascular symptoms which were more prevalent in Hispanic and African American children. In all ethnic groups the most frequent symptoms were headaches and gastrointestinal problems, with the latter been more prevalent in the younger age cohort. In all age groups, females had higher rates of somatic symptoms. Results are interpreted in lieu of the main limitation of the study, that is, somatic symptoms were not ascertained independent of the diagnoses of anxiety disorders.
KeywordsAnxiety Disorder Somatic Symptom African American Child Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry Cardiovascular Symptom
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