Can the bodily distress syndrome (BDS) concept be used to assess functional somatic symptoms in adolescence?

Lina Münker, Martin Køster Rimvall, Lisbeth Frostholm, Eva Ørnbøl, Kaare Bro Wellnitz, Judith Rosmalen, Charlotte Ulrikka Rask


OBJECTIVE: Bodily Distress Syndrome (BDS) represents a new research concept for adult patients with various functional somatic syndromes. We evaluated the utility of the BDS research concept and the associated BDS-25-checklist as a screening tool for diverse functional somatic symptoms (FSS) in adolescence by investigating: 1) the psychometric and factorial structures of the checklist, 2) symptom cluster patterns and 3) illness classification and associations with emotional psychopathology and sociodemographic factors.

METHODS: This cross-sectional study obtained data from the 16/17-year follow-up (N = 2542) of the general population Copenhagen Child Cohort 2000 (CCC2000). We used self-reported questionnaires to assess physical symptoms (the BDS-25 checklist), overall health (KidScreen), emotional psychopathology (Spence Children's Anxiety Scale; The Mood and Feelings Questionnaire), and illness worry (Whiteley-6 Index), and utilized data from Danish national registers to assess sociodemographic factors.

RESULTS: The BDS-25 checklist items displayed satisfactory psychometric data quality. Factor analyses revealed a similar four-factor model as reported in adults (factor loadings λ ≥0.5), representing distinct BDS symptom clusters: cardio-pulmonary, gastro-intestinal, musculoskeletal and general symptoms. Latent class analyses revealed a model with three latent classes, i.e. probable no to mild BDS, probable moderate, single-organ BDS and probable severe, multi-organ BDS, displaying acceptable class quality (Entropy = 0.904). Trend analyses revealed sociodemographic group differences across latent classes. Increased emotional psychopathology was associated with more pronounced BDS symptoms.

CONCLUSION: Our findings support the BDS concept with four symptom clusters and three illness severity groups (no BDS, single- organ and multi-organ BDS) to screen for FSS in adolescence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111064
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Pages (from-to)111064
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


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