Project Title  Health Care Related Factors of Somatic Symptom Persistence across Europe
Host institution  University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany
Supervisor  Prof. Bernd Löwe
Required qualifications  Degree in medicine, psychology or health sciences; preferably experience with systematic       reviews, online surveys or health sevices research
Duration   36 months


The main goal of this project is first to identify health care- and treatment-related factors that deteriorate FD. This study includes 2 phases. In the first phase (1 year), a systematic review of potential health care-related and treatment-related factors that contribute to symptom persistence and deterioration will be conducted. Based on these findings, in the second study phase (2 years), we will conduct online surveys including participants with high risk of FD (elevated scores on PHQ-15 and SSD-12) to identify which factors were involved in symptom persistence over time. The online survey will be conducted in several European countries in order to detect health care related factors that are common, or specific for the respective health care systems.

Expected Results: 

  1. Systematic review of health care factors contributing to somatic symptom persistence and FD (together with ESR12)
  2. Identification of systemic factors contributing to symptom persistence in different European countries
  3. Recommendations for future improvements in health care systems to prevent unnecessary symptom persistence

Planned secondments and research visits: 

  1. Wroclaw Medical University (WMU), Department of Psychiatry (Prof. Rymaszewska), Wroclaw, Poland; Start: Month 14; Duration: 1 month; Aim: learn about health care systems in Eastern Europe and prepare corresponding online survey
  2. University of Florence (UNIFI), Department of Health Sciences (Dr. Cosci), Florence, Italy; Start: Month 15; Duration: 1 month; Aim: learn about health care systems in Southern Europe and prepare corresponding online survey
  3. University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG), Departments of Psychiatry and Internal Medicine (Prof. Rosmalen), Groningen, Netherlands; Start: Month 16; Duration: 3 months; Aim: systematic review, learn about health care system in Western Europe and prepare corresponding online survey
  4. USUMA GmbH, Market and Social Research, Berlin, Germany (Dr. Schunter); Start: Month 19; Duration: 6 months; Aim: learn how to set-up and perform a cross-European survey