Symptoms as a clue to otologic and psychiatric diagnosis in patients with dizziness

Michael R. Clark, Mark D. Sullivan, Mark Fischl, Wayne J. Katon, Joan E. Russo, Robert A. Dobie, Richard Voorhees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Dizziness is a common symptom that often remains unexplained despite extensive medical evaluation. Psychiatric disorders are usually considered only after all medical causes of dizziness have been ruled out. Sixty-five patients referred to an otolaryngology practice received a structured psychiatric interview, an otologic evaluation, and a dizziness questionnaire modified to assess psychiatric symptoms. They were divided into four diagnostic groups: psychiatric diagnosis only, otologic diagnosis only, both diagnoses, or neither diagnosis. Eleven questionnaire items were significantly associated with diagnostic groupings. Stepwise discriminant function analysis utilizing age, gender, rapid/irregular heartbeat, extremety weakness, nausea/vomiting, and difficulty with speech resulted in correct group classification for 70% of subjects. The presence of dizziness symptoms like vertigo or lightheadedness was not significantly different between groups. This study suggests that assessment of psychiatric and autonomic symptoms should accompany, not follow, otologic evaluation of dizziness. These symptoms may be more important diagnostically than dizziness quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)461-470
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 1994


  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Psychiatric Diagnosis
  • Somatization
  • Vertigo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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