Given the diagnostic ambiguity of physically unexplained complaints we wanted to study whether the clinically and symptomatically characterized groups, all of them defined according to DSM-III-R criteria, could be reclassified using selected empirical and theoretical variables of operationally defined parameters.
Patients with conversion (N = 75), somatization or undifferentiated somatoform disorders (N = 74) and major depression (N = 70) according to DSM-III-R underwent multidimensional work-up including psychopathological, personality-psychological, illness, behavioral and coping assessment. The clinically characterized groups should be statistically reclassified by discriminant analytic techniques.
The existing diagnostic categories according to DSM-III-R could be widely confirmed by the statistical reconstitution of the clinical groups. Conversion, somatization and depressive disorder presented as distinct clinical categories.
A classification relying widely on symptoms still seems to be too superficial and does not represent the complexity of these patients. Thus, the modern classification systems with their purely phenomenological criteria should be added with further dimensions.