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The European Journal of Psychiatry

Print version ISSN 0213-6163

Abstract

RAFANELLI, Chiara et al. Subtyping demoralization in the medically ill by cluster analysis. Eur. J. Psychiat. [online]. 2013, vol.27, n.1, pp.7-17. ISSN 0213-6163.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4321/S0213-61632013000100002.

Background and Objectives: There is increasing interest in the issue of demoralization, particularly in the setting of medical disease. The aim of this investigation was to use both DSM-IV comorbidity and the Diagnostic Criteria for Psychosomatic Research (DCPR) in order to characterize demoralization in the medically ill. Methods: 1700 patients were recruited from 8 medical centers in the Italian Health System and 1560 agreed to participate. They all underwent a cross-sectional assessment with DSM-IV and DCPR structured interviews. 373 patients (23.9%) received a diagnosis of demoralization. Data were submitted to cluster analysis. Results: Four clusters were identified: demoralization and comorbid depression; demoralization and comorbid somatoform/adjustment disorders; demoralization and comorbid anxiety; demoralization without any comorbid DSM disorder. The first cluster included 27.6% of the total sample and was characterized by the presence of DSM-IV mood disorders (mainly major depressive disorder). The second cluster had 18.2% of the cases and contained both DSM-IV somatoform (particularly, undifferentiated somatoform disorder and hypochondriasis) and adjustment disorders. In the third cluster (24.7%), DSM-IV anxiety disorders in comorbidity with demoralization were predominant (particularly, generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder). The fourth cluster had 29.5% of the patients and was characterized by the absence of any DSM-IV comorbid disorder. Conclusions: The findings indicate the need of expanding clinical assessment in the medically ill to include the various manifestations of demoralization as encompassed by the DCPR. Subtyping demoralization may yield improved targets for psychosomatic research and treatment trials.

Keywords : Demoralization; DCPR; DSM-IV; Cluster analysis.

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