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We review the concept and importance of functional somatic symptoms and syndromes such as irritable bowel syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome. On the basis of a literature review, we conclude that a substantial overlap exists between the individual syndromes and that the similarities between them outweigh the differences. Similarities are apparent in case definition, reported symptoms, and in non-symptom association such as patients' sex, outlook, and response to treatment. We conclude that the existing definitions of these syndromes in terms of specific symptoms is of limited value; instead we believe a dimensional classification is likely to be more productive.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/S0140-6736(98)08320-2

Type

Journal article

Journal

Lancet

Publication Date

11/09/1999

Volume

354

Pages

936 - 939

Keywords

Colonic Diseases, Functional, Combined Modality Therapy, Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic, Humans, Patient Care Team, Prognosis, Sick Role, Somatoform Disorders