Digital Public Defence: Mona Kjeldsberg Mona Kjeldsberg at Institute of Health and Society will be defending the thesis “Symptoms as a surmountable challenge: Symptom reporting and self-rated health in the population and in general practice” for the degree of PhD (Philosophiae Doctor).

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The public defence will be held as a video conference over Zoom.

The defence will follow regular procedure as far as possible, hence it will be open to the public and the audience can ask ex auditorio questions when invited to do so.

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Due to copyright reasons, an electronic copy of the thesis must be ordered from the faculty. In order for the faculty to have time to process the order, it must be received by the faculty no later than 2 days prior to the public defence. Orders received later than 2 days before the defence will not be processed. Inquiries regarding the thesis after the public defence must be addressed to the candidate.

Digital Trial Lecture – time and place

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Adjudication committee

  • First opponent: Professor Dorte Ejg Jarbøl, University of Southern Denmark
  • Second opponent: Professor Steinar Krokstad, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Third member and chair of the evaluation committee: Professor Tone Rustøen, University of Oslo

Chair of the Defence

Associate Professor Anne Olaug Olsen, University of Oslo

Principal Supervisor

Professor Bård Natvig, Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo


-Symptom reporting and self-rated health in the population and in general practice

Symptoms are experienced by most people every day. However, we know less about how symptoms are associated with self-rated health, diagnoses, life-stressors and unexplained conditions.

The aims of this thesis were to explore symptom reporting and self-rated health in a population and in general practice patients, and to study factors associated with the report of poor self-rated health.

Self-report questionnaires from 3225 inhabitants in Ullensaker municipality and linked questionnaires to 866 patients in general practice and their 47 general practitioners were included in the study.

In the population, 91% reported at least one symptom the last month, and 47% reported 6 or more symptoms. Women reported more symptoms than men (mean 6.7 vs 5.1). Symptoms were frequent in all age groups, also among the youngest (24-26 years). Most symptoms were reported by those with poor self-rated health (13.4), recipients of social security benefits (10.2) and unemployed (7.9).

The most common symptoms among patients in general practice the last week were tiredness (44%), lower back pain (43%), headache (41%), neck pain (39%), shoulder pain (36%) and sleep problems (35%). Patients diagnosed with asthenia (11.2) and depression/anxiety (10.7) reported the highest number of symptoms, and patients with hypertension the lowest (5.6).

There was a strong association between poor self-rated health and the report of a high number of symptoms both in the population and in patients in general practice.

Current and chronic diagnoses, life stressors or medically unexplained conditions were not associated with poor self-rated health in a multivariate analysis.

Doctors should be made aware that patients with many symptoms have an increased risk of developing poor health, partly independent of diagnosis. The strong association between poor self-rated health and a high number of symptoms also points out the clinical utility of drawing the complete picture of symptoms in a patient from time to time.

Additional information

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Published Jan. 3, 2022 11:29 AM - Last modified Jan. 18, 2022 12:00 PM