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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter October 1, 2017

Comparison of patients diagnosed with “complex pain” and “somatoform pain”

Peter la Cour


Background and aim

Chronic pain conditions can be diagnosed and treated in both somatic and psychiatric settings. It is still a discussed and unanswered question whether the two groups of patients differ. The purpose of this short article is to inform further reflections concerning the classifications of somatoform pain and complex pain.


Sociodemographic and questionnaire data concerning anxiety and depression, perceived injustice, well-being, and levels of psycho-physiological functioning were compared for patients diagnosed with complex pain (somatic diagnosis) at a pain clinic and somatoform pain (psychiatric diagnosis) at a Liaison-psychiatric clinic.


Very little differences were found between patients with complex pain (N = 162) and somatoform conditions (N = 89). Both patient groups were seriously impaired both physically and mentally.


These comparisons lend support to the viewpoint of non-segregation of somatoform and complex pain.


Pain treatment might be better-managed in common multidisciplinary centers with specialists in both pain treatment and psychiatric aid.

Knowledge Center for Functional Diseases, Mental Health Center, Nannasgade 28, 2200 Copenhagen N., Denmark. Email:

  1. Ethical issues: Data collection was performed in accordance with the guidelines for the Danish national scientific ethics committee, and the database was approved by the national Danish Data Protection Agency.

  2. Conflicts of interest: There is no conflict of interests.


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Received: 2017-04-11
Revised: 2017-06-15
Accepted: 2017-07-05
Published Online: 2017-10-01
Published in Print: 2017-10-01

© 2017 Scandinavian Association for the Study of Pain

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