Loneliness in patients with somatic symptom disorder

Anique E.C.C. Vos, Ellen M.M. Jongen*, Anja J.H.C. van den Hout, Jacques J.D.M. van Lankveld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: Patients with somatoform disorders often experience loneliness. They feel misunderstood and socially rejected. Whereas loneliness is related to several medical conditions, social support can minimize loneliness. In the current study, differences in loneliness and the evaluation of social support between patients with Somatic Symptom Disorder (SSD) and healthy controls were investigated using standardized questionnaires. In addition, the relation between loneliness and somatic symptoms was investigated. Methods: In a cross-sectional study design, a group of patients with SSD (n=75) was compared to a healthy control group (n=112). It was hypothesized that [1] patients with SSD experience more loneliness and evaluate their social support more negatively than healthy controls and [2] loneliness will correlate positively with experienced somatic symptoms. Results: In comparison to healthy controls, patients with SSD experienced more loneliness and their evaluation of social support was more negative. In addition, loneliness correlated positively with the degree of experienced somatic symptoms. Conclusions: Patients with SSD experienced lower social support, more loneliness, and across the two groups loneliness was positively associated with somatic symptoms. Effect sizes were all large. Therefore, these results may have implications for the treatment of SSD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-297
Number of pages7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • loneliness
  • mental health
  • social support
  • somatic symptom disorder
  • somatic symptoms


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