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Coping with patients with medically unexplained symptoms: work-related strategies of physicians in primary health care.

Journal article
Authors Karin C. Ringsberg
Gunilla Krantz
Published in Journal of health psychology
Volume 11
Issue 1
Pages 107-16
ISSN 1359-1053
Publication year 2006
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Pages 107-16
Language en
Keywords Adaptation, Psychological, Adult, Anxiety, Appointments and Schedules, Attitude of Health Personnel, Behavioral Symptoms, Diagnosis, Differential, Emotions, Female, Focus Groups, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Physician-Patient Relations, Physicians, Family, psychology, Primary Health Care, methods, Problem Solving, Rural Health Services, Social Perception, Sweden, Work Capacity Evaluation
Subject categories Public health medicine research areas


General practitioners (GPs) often meet patients with medically unexplained symptoms (MUS). From a patient perspective, MUS is a well-acknowledged problem within the primary health care services today, but less is known about the GPs' perceptions. This study aims to elucidate GPs' perceptions of patients with MUS, focusing on stressing situations, emotional reactions and coping strategies. Twenty-seven physicians participated in focus-group discussions. In the analysis, where a phenomenographic approach was used, six situations were identified as being especially stressful in the encounter with these patients. The GPs described how they used both problem-focused and emotion-focused strategies, but with emotion-focused strategies slightly dominating, indicating that the GPs had difficulties in managing their own stress when working with patients with MUS.

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