Cognitive-behavioural group treatment for a range of functional somatic syndromes: randomised trial

Andreas Schröder, Emma Rehfeld, Eva Ornbøl, Michael Sharpe, Rasmus W Licht, Per Fink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output


Many specialty-specific functional somatic syndrome diagnoses exist to describe people who are experiencing so-called medically unexplained symptoms. Although cognitive–behavioural therapy can be effective in the management of such syndromes, it is rarely available. A cognitive–behavioural therapy suitable for group treatment of people with different functional somatic syndromes could address this problem.


To test the efficacy of a cognitive–behavioural therapy (Specialised Treatment for Severe Bodily Distress Syndromes, STreSS) designed for patients with a range of severe functional somatic syndromes.


A randomised controlled trial (, NCT00132197) compared STreSS (nine 3.5 h sessions over 4 months, n = 54) with enhanced usual care (management by primary care physician or medical specialist, n = 66). The primary outcome was improvement in aggregate score on subscales of the 36-item Short Form Health Survey (physical functioning, bodily pain and vitality) at 16 months.


Participants receiving STreSS had a greater improvement on the primary outcome (adjusted mean difference 4.0, 95% CI 1.4–6.6, P = 0.002) and on most secondary outcomes.


In the management of functional somatic syndromes, a cognitive–behavioural group treatment was more effective than enhanced usual care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-507
Number of pages9
JournalThe British Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number6
Early online date26 Apr 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Adult
  • Cognitive Therapy
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Somatoform Disorders
  • Syndrome
  • Treatment Outcome


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