Community physicians' strategies for patients with medically unexplained symptoms

Journal Name: 
Fam Med
Authors: 
Anderson,M.
Hartz,A.
Nordin,T.
Rosenbaum,M.
Noyes,R.
James,P.
Ely,J.
Agarwal,N.
Anderson,S.
Abstract: 
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: This qualitative study examined the management strategies that community primary care physicians use for patients with medically unexplained symptoms (MUS). METHODS: Volunteer community physicians identified patients with chronic MUS. The physicians and patients were interviewed separately about management strategies used and their effectiveness. Thematic analyses were used to categorize these strategies. RESULTS: Thirty-six physicians and 49 of their patients completed interviews. Physician strategies considered effective by physicians and patients included medical treatment, exploring causes of symptoms with tests and referrals, attentive listening, validating complaints, demonstrating commitment over time (eg, assuring patients of continued care, allowing extended office visits, and returning phone calls), providing clear explanations of symptoms and management, and providing explanatory models for the linkage between psychosocial factors and physical symptoms. Strategies used that conflict with published recommendations included ordering potentially unnecessary diagnostic tests, scheduling patients on demand, and prescribing narcotics. Physicians expressed concerns about these strategies but considered the benefits for specific patients worth the costs and risks. CONCLUSIONS: Physicians used some strategies recommended in the medical literature and others not recommended. The ability to effectively implement certain strategies may depend on having a long-term relationship with a patient and a health care environment that permits extensive patient-physician interaction
2
2008
Volume: 
40
Pages: 
111-118
Keywords: 
Adult, Aged, Aged,80 and over, Attitude of Health Personnel, Communication, community, cost, Diagnosis, diagnostic, Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures, Environment, factors, Female, Guideline Adherence, Health, health care, Humans, interaction, Internal Medicine, Interviews, Iowa, Male, medical, Medicine, Methods, Middle Aged, Office Visits, patient, Patients, Physician's Practice Patterns, Physician-Patient Relations, Physicians, Physicians,Family, Practice Guidelines as Topic, primary care, Referral and Consultation, Research, Research Support, Risk, Somatoform Disorders, support, therapy, Universities