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Keywords:

  • Epidemiology;
  • somatic symptoms;
  • adolescence

A secondary school population of 805 11-16-year-olds reported lifetime prevalence of 31 physical symptoms and illness attitudes. Girls had a median of six symptoms (range 0–22) and boys five (range 0–22); 67 (8.3%) had 13 or more. Older girls reported more symptoms than younger ones. The excess of symptoms in older girls was related to reporting painful periods rather than simply to age or the menarche. High symptom scorers of both sexes had significantly higher scores on seven Illness Attitude Sub-Scales (Kellner, 1987), with more distress about illness and more treatment experience. The implications of these findings are discussed.