JOURNAL ARTICLE

Clinical practitioners' views on the management of patients with medically unexplained physical symptoms (MUPS): a qualitative study

A Keith W Brownell, Chloe Atkins, Andrea Whiteley, Robert F Woollard, Jude Kornelsen
BMJ Open 2016 December 21, 6 (12): e012379
28003283

OBJECTIVES: By identifying strategies that practicing physicians use in managing patients with medically unexplained physical symptoms (MUPS), we present an interim practical management guide (IPMG) that clinical practitioners may find useful in their clinical practices and that may help guide future research.

DESIGN: A qualitative research study based on interview data from practicing physicians with experience in dealing with MUPS and known to the physician members of the research team. A parallel exploration of patient experiences was carried out simultaneously and is reported elsewhere.

SETTING: 2 urban centres in 2 different Canadian provinces in a healthcare system where family physicians provide the majority of primary care and self-referral to specialists rarely occurs.

PARTICIPANTS: The physician members of the research team invited practicing family and specialty physicians to participate in the study.

RESULTS: We characterise the care of patients with MUPS in terms of a 4-part framework: (1) the challenge of diagnosis; (2) the challenge of management/treatment; (3) the importance of communication and (4) the importance of the therapeutic relationship.

CONCLUSIONS: On the basis of the details in the different parts of the framework, we propose an IPMG that practitioners may find useful to facilitate the clinical care of patients with MUPS. The guide can be readily implemented into the practice of any physician who cares for patients with MUPS.

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