Impairment of physical and psychosocial function in recurrent syncope

Mark Linzer, Michele Pontinen, Deborah T. Gold, George W. Divine, Alonzo Felder, W. Blair Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

262 Scopus citations


Physical and psychosocial function have rarely been assessed in syncope. We used two valid and reliable measures of health status, the Sickness Impact Profile (SIP) and the Symptom Checklist 90 (SCL-90-R), to assess functional impairment in 62 patients with recurrent syncope seen in a syncope specialty clinic. Mean total SIP scores were markedly elevated at 17 (SD = 14), indicating a level of impairment similar to severe rheumatoid arthritis and chronic low back pain. SIP psychosocial scores were significantly greater than SIP physical scores (20 vs 11, p < 0.0001). SCL-90-R scores were also high, comparable to those of psychiatric inpatients. Somatization, anxiety and depression dimensions of the SCL-90-R were particularly elevated. SCL-90-R subscale scores were highly correlated with SIP psychosocial scores (all r > 0.4, and p < 0.001). Neither age nor number of comorbid diseases correlated with measures of psychosocial function, suggesting that syncope itself causes psychosocial impairment. Although this was a referral population, these data suggest that function can be seriously impaired by syncope, that the degree of impairment is similar to that reported in other chronic diseases, and that syncope leads to significantly greater psychosocial than physical impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1037-1043
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1991


  • Functional disability
  • Psychosocial health
  • Syncope


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