Background and objective: Few reports in the medical literature examine physician agreement on a standard assessment for somatisation in primary care patients. We describe somatising patients who were subjectively identified by family physicians and subsequently classified on the somatisation spectrum by a standard evaluation. We also examine the relation between somatisation and alexithymia. Method: Responding to a brief verbal prompt, family physicians referred high-utilising patients 18 years old and older who had 'persistent medically unexplained symptoms for at least 6 months' (n = 72). Patients who agreed to participate in the study (n = 48) were assessed individually using a structured diagnostic interview and two measures of alexithymia. Results: All participating patients met inclusion criteria for one of two abridged subtypes on the somatisation spectrum. Somatisation was not related to alexithymia. Conclusions: Family physicians subjectively identified patients who had somatisation, with a high level of accuracy and without formal screening or diagnostic tests. Embedded in a disease-management system, especially an electronic version, a brief verbal prompt to physicians to identify patients on the somatisation spectrum could potentially realise considerable savings in physician time and medical system financial expenditures.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Mental Health in Family Medicine|
|State||Published - Sep 1 2008|