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.