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Int J Psychiatry Med. 1994;24(4):339-56.

Psychiatric consultations in medical outpatients with abdominal pain: patient and physician effects.

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Free University Hospital, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



The purpose of the study was to assess the effect of a psychiatric consultation intervention in terms of changes in 1) the patients' psychological symptoms, and 2) satisfaction of general practitioners (GPs) concerning their cooperation with the internists.


In a randomized controlled design, the effect of a psychiatric consultation intervention in medical outpatients with abdominal pain (n = 106) has been assessed. The goal of the intervention was 1) a holistic approach toward the patients' symptoms, and 2) the improvement of the cooperation between primary and secondary medical health services. The intervention was designed at the health care provider level; the psychiatrist did not see or examine the patient. The 106 patients were subdivided in an index group (N = 49) and a control group (N = 57). The major outcome measures were the psychological status of the patient and degree of satisfaction of the GPs about the cooperation with the medical specialists.


At six months follow-up, there was a significantly greater decline in depressive symptoms assessed by SCL-90 in the patient index group compared with the control group. The GPs of the index group were significantly more satisfied with the cooperation and communication with the internists compared with the control group.


An experimental psychiatric consultation intervention did effect the patients' well-being to a certain degree, and especially the GPs were affected in terms of satisfaction. The relevance of improving the communication between health care providers in the management of somatizing patients is discussed.

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