Department of General… Research Research areas



Functional / somatoform body complaints (FSK) are associated with a high physical pressure. They affect a large number of patients and lead to a significant impairment of everyday functions and quality of life. The study aims to improve the understanding of FSC within the framework of a cross-sectional questionnaire investigation. For this purpose, patients with FSC (e.g. irritable bowel syndrome) will be compared with patients with somatic body complaints (chronic inflammatory bowel disease), patients with anxiety and depressive symptoms, as well as with healthy subjects. Subject of the study are the somatic and psychological symptom patterns in their interaction with the psychodynamic disease factors bonding, structure, mentalization as well as adverse childhood experiences. A second focus is on the new diagnostic concept of Somatic Stress Disorder.

Recruitment was carried out in the outpatient general practice of Dr. Arends and Dr. Polzer as well as in close cooperation with our gastroenterological cooperation partners in the gastroenterology practice of Prof. Dr.Ehehalt and with Dr. med. Kilian Friedrich in the Gastroenterological Specialty Practice Heidelberg as well as in the special outpatient departments of the University Hospital Heidelberg (Psychosomatic Outpatient Clinic, Irritable Bowel Clinic, Outpatient Clinic for Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Diseases).

Specific questions concerned, for example, the role of symptom activity in relation to psychological stress in patients with gastrointestinal complaints, the influence of acute infections on physical complaints, and the influence of fear of disease, adverseE childhood experiences or specific deficits in the processing of emotions in patients with irritable bowel syndrome, chronic inflammatory bowel disease or somatic stress disorder.

Project management

Cooperation/association partners:
Annika Gauss MD, Christoph Nikendei MD, Prof. Henning Schauenburg MD, Dr. phil. Dipl.-Psych. Johannes Ehrenthal

Duration: 2016-2020

Supported by: Köhler Foundation (2016-2017)