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Fam Pract. 2006 Aug;23(4):414-20. Epub 2006 Apr 21.

Persistent presentation of medically unexplained symptoms in general practice.

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Netherlands Institute of Health Services Research, PO Box 1568, 3500 BN Utrecht.



To estimate the prevalence of persistent presentation of medically unexplained physical symptoms (MUPS) in general practice. To assess socio-demographic characteristics, health status and use of health services of patients who frequently present MUPS, compared with reference groups.


One-year, nationwide, representative survey of morbidity in general practice in The Netherlands, including 400,000 enlisted patients in 104 general practices.


Of all patients (age: 18 years and older), 2.45% who visited their GP at least once a year, presented at least 4 times in 1 year with symptoms which are commonly considered medically unexplained without getting a medical diagnosis during that period, that might explain the symptoms. These patients are significantly older, more often female, less educated, more frequently unemployed and more frequently from a non-Western origin than 'average' patients or patients with a medical diagnosis.


Although 25-50% of all reasons for visit to a GP concern symptoms that are not medically explained, the frequent presentation of such symptoms is much more rare. Frequent attendance because of MUPS is most common among elderly women with a lower socio-economic status.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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