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Hypochondriasis prevalence

Vol. 2, No. 11 / November 2003

Suzanne Feinstein, PhD, and Brian Fallon, MD, MPH, note that “In psychiatric or medical clinics, women (have) hypochondriasis three to four times more often than menSeptember 2003).

DSM-IV-TR,2 however, reports equal incidence of hypochondriasis in men and women, as do Tasman, Kay & Lieberman.3

Researchers have distinguished between the incidence and prevalence of hypochondriasis in the general and medical populations. DSM-IV-TR places hypochondriasis prevalence at 1 to 5% in the general population and 2 to 7% in the medical population. Martin & Yutzy’s4 estimate of 3 to 13% prevalence in the medical population jibes with Dr. Feinstein’s and Dr. Fallon’s article.

To my knowledge, however, data on hypochondriasis prevalence among psychiatric outpatients are lacking. Extrapolating this information from the general medical population and implying a similar prevalence among psychiatric outpatients may not be correct.

Jessica Bright, MD
Child psychiatry fellow
Department of psychiatry and human behavior
Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA


  1. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed-text revision). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2000.
  2. Barsky AJ, Wyshak G, Klerman GL, Latham KS. The prevalence of hypochondriasis in medical outpatients. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 1990;25(2):89–94.
  3. Tasman A, Kay J, Lieberman, JA (eds). Psychiatry, Vol. 2 (1st ed). Philadelphia: WB Saunders, 1997.
  4. Martin RL, Yutzy SH. Somatoform disorders. In: Tasman A, Kay J, Lieberman JA (eds). Psychiatry (1st ed). Philadelphia: WB Saunders, 1997:1144–8.

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