Prevalence of recurrent physical symptoms in U.S. adolescents.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


To estimate the prevalence of 10 recurrent physical symptoms and to examine how prevalence differs by gender and age in healthy American adolescents.


Cross-sectional analysis used survey data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), a school-based probability sample of over 20,000 adolescents in grades 7 through 12.


Headache was the most frequently reported symptom (29%), closely followed by musculoskeletal pain (27%), fatigue (21%), and stomachache (18%). About one third of the adolescents reported multiple symptoms. Nonlinear age trends were found for musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and dizziness with peaks between ages 16 and 17. Prevalence was higher in girls for most symptoms except musculoskeletal pain. Multiple symptoms were also prevalent and varied according to age and gender.


The findings provide a database for studying health problems in adolescents. The high prevalence of physical symptoms underscores the importance of incorporating symptom assessment into adolescent physical check-ups at schools and communities as well as during sick office visits. This helps nurses strategize screening of adolescents.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Rhee, H; Miles, MS; Halpern, CT; Holditch-Davis, D

Published Date

  • July 2005

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 31 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 314 - 350

PubMed ID

  • 16229130

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0097-9805


  • eng