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Br J Psychiatry. 2001 Jul;179:11-4.

Somatoform disorders: severe psychiatric illnesses neglected by psychiatrists.

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  • 1Department of Psychological Medicine, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Somatoform disorders have few peers in terms of personal morbidity and cost to the health service, yet many psychiatrists train without any experience of them.

AIMS:

To review the prevalence, disability and economic burden of somatoform disorders, and to explore the reasons why they are neglected by psychiatrists.

METHOD:

A selective review of the key literature.

RESULTS:

Psychiatrists' current preoccupation with so-called 'serious mental illness' gives somatoform disorders low priority. Some health planners have erroneously equated severity with diagnosis rather than level of need and disability. As a consequence the development of psychiatric services has been neglected.

CONCLUSIONS:

Greater recognition of the importance of somatoform disorders will only occur if high quality research and teaching receive priority, and if the Royal Colleges continue to press for increasing public awareness of their importance. Services should be driven by clinical need rather than diagnosis.

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PMID:
11435262
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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