DFG Research Unit RU 5211 - SOMACROSS

Development and Persistence of Somatic Symptoms

(SOMACROSS - Persistent SOMAtic Symptoms ACROSS Diseases: From Risk Factors to Modification)

The new Research Unit RU 5211, led by the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, is funded for four years by the German Research Foundation (DFG) with 4.6 million Euro. The overall aim is to investigate which risk factors and mechanisms lead to the persistence of somatic symptoms across diverse disorders. Persistent somatic symptoms (PSS), such as fatigue, pruritus and gastrointestinal symptoms are widespread in medicine and evidence on their development is insufficient.

For patients suffering from PSS, the burden is substantial and quality of life often significantly diminished. Scientists from the UKE and their cooperation partners now aim at shedding light on biopsychosocial factors that influence how symptoms become persistent.

Addressing a diverse range of disorders within an interdisciplinary team will allow for an identification of factors that are specific vs. overarching for different disorders. A better understanding of the processes of symptom persistence will enable the development of mechanisms-based treatment approaches to alleviate symptom burden on patients with different PSS.

Examining ten different disorders

An overall sample of 4000 participants will be recruited within the seven subprojects, addressing ten different disorders. Shared time points of measurement and a core data set allows for comparisons across projects and disorders. The results on biopsychosocial factors leading to symptom persistence will help to develop approaches for prevention, early recognition, treatment and improving quality of life.

Besides the Research Unit’s speaker, Prof. Dr. Bernd Löwe (Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, UKE), further principal investigators from the UKE contribute their expertise: Prof. Dr. Tobias B. Huber (III. Department of Medicine, UKE), Prof. Dr. Olaf von dem Knesebeck (Institute of Medical Sociology, UKE), Prof. Dr. Ansgar W. Lohse (I. Department of Medicine, UKE), Prof. Dr. Christoph Schramm (I. Department of Medicine & Martin Zeitz Center for Rare Diseases, UKE), Prof. Dr. Stefan W. Schneider (Department of Dermatology and Venereology, UKE), Dr. Anne Toussaint (Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, UKE) and Prof. Dr. Antonia Zapf (Institute of Medical Biometry and Epidemiology, UKE).

In addition, external principal investigators enrich the interdisciplinary team: Prof. Dr. Sonja Ständer (Department of Dermatology, Münster University Hospital), Prof. Dr. Gudrun Schneider (Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Münster University Hospital), Prof. Dr. Meike Shedden Mora (Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Medical School Hamburg) and Prof. Dr. Yvonne Nestoriuc (Department of Clinical Psychology, Helmut Schmidt University / University of the Federal Armed Forces, Hamburg).

Working Model of the Research Unit SOMACROSS