J Psychosom Res. 2007 Dec;63(6):657-61.
Trauma experience in individuals with idiopathic environmental intolerance and individuals with somatoform disorders.
OBJECTIVE: Results from previous studies suggest that past trauma experience increases the risk for medically unexplained somatic symptoms and somatoform disorders (SFD). This cross-sectional study examined the link between various lifetime traumas, idiopathic environmental intolerance (IEI), and SFD.
METHODS: Two clinical groups of 54 subjects with IEI and 44 subjects with SFD were compared to 54 subjects (comparison group, CG) free from both IEI and SFD regarding self-reported traumas. The subjects were mainly recruited via advertisements in local newspapers. From 970 individuals screened for IEI and multiple somatic symptoms, 152 were included through a two-step selection procedure consisting of screening questionnaires, a medical examination, and structured interviews for IEI and mental disorders.
RESULTS: In all three groups at least one potential traumatic event was reported rather frequently (CG: 70%; IEI: 82%; SFD: 73%). But contrary to our expectation, significant group differences were neither found in regard to the proportion of subjects with any trauma, nor traumas fulfilling DSM-IV criteria (CG: 41%; IEI: 48%; SFD: 59%), nor multiple traumas (CG: 43%, IEI: 56%, SFD: 39%). Only two trauma categories were endorsed more frequently by the two clinical groups than by the CG: the unspecified 'other' category (IEI, SFD>CG) and 'life-threatening illness' (IEI>CG).
CONCLUSION: No clear evidence was found for increased rates of trauma experience in IEI and SFD. However, the results of this exploratory study should be considered as preliminary. Comparing larger IEI and SFD groups with a representative population-based sample may yield different results.