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Br J Psychiatry. 1993 Apr;162:472-80.

The management of chronic somatisation.

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


'Somatisation' is a process in which there is inappropriate focus on physical symptoms and psychosocial problems are denied. In some patients this process becomes chronic (in excess of six months). Special skills and strategies are required by non-psychiatrists to manage these patients, for whom the acceptance of psychiatric treatment should be facilitated. When taking the history, doctors should be aware of psychosocial cues; thereafter they should be consistent and unambiguous in their management. An agenda should be set early on, with limits on investigations. Failure to manage this group of patients is costly, and further intervention studies are required not only to reduce health service and other costs, but also to relieve the non-monetary burden of physical and psychosocial disability on patients and their relatives.

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