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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Terre, Lisa
item Poston, Walker
item Foreyt, John
item St. Jeor Sachiko, T
item Horrigan, Kelly

Submitted to: Psychology and Health
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/19/2003
Publication Date: 8/1/2004
Citation: Terre, L., Poston, W.S.C., Foreyt, J., St. Joer, S.T., Horrigan, K.L. 2004. Does family of origin functioning predict adult somatic complaints? Psychology and Health. 19(4):507-514.

Interpretive Summary: This study examined the relationship between past early family interactions and current symptoms of physical distress in a community sample. Contrary to findings in clinical populations linking early family interactions to current symptoms of distress, such a link was not supported in the current sample. These findings advance the understanding of how early family experiences differentially contribute to adult psychological functioning.

Technical Abstract: It has long been believed that adult somatic complaints are associated with early family dysfunction. Yet few studies have examined this hypothesis in community samples, where medically unexplained symptom complaints are estimated to be very common. Given the potential population-wide impact of subthreshold symptom complaints as well as questions about the extent to which findings with patient populations generalize to broader samples of community adults, the present study examines the influence of distal family factors on current adult somatic complaints relative to demographic and other psychosocial predictors. Results based on multiple linear regression analysis indicated that, after controlling for the other variables, family-of-origin functioning did not predict adult somatic complaints. However, self-reported symptoms of current depressed mood and low internal locus of control were significantly linked to somatic complaints (p=0.001). These results lend support to questions about the generalizability of findings based on psychiatric groups to broader community samples, highlight the robust relationship between contemporaneous attributions of lower internal control, depressed mood, and somatic complaints, and suggest that early family environment may not be the most important focus of attention for health professionals providing care to adults in the community.

Last Modified: 06/22/2017
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