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Colombia Médica

On-line version ISSN 1657-9534

Abstract

GONZALEZ, Azucena Maribel Rodriguez et al. Health care utilization of mexican patients with medically unexplained physical symptoms. Colomb. Med. [online]. 2016, vol.47, n.3, pp.155-159. ISSN 1657-9534.

Objective:

To determine the prevalence of medically unexplained physical symptoms and the characteristics and use of health services in a group of patients with medically unexplained physical symptoms and a group of patients with other illnesses.

Methods:

This was a cross-sectional, retrospective and multicenter study. We included 1,043 patients over 18 years of age from 30 primary care units of a government health institution, in 11 states of Mexico, attended by 39 family physicians. The prevalence of medically unexplained physical symptoms was determined and both groups with or without symptoms were compared with regard to drug use, laboratory and other studies, leaves of absence, and referrals in the last six months. The group with medically unexplained physical symptoms was diagnosed using the Patient Health Questionnaire and the diagnostic criteria of Reid et al. Emergency or terminal illnesses were excluded. The chi square test was used with a statistical significance of p < 0.05.

Results:

Medically unexplained physical symptoms was diagnosed in 73 patients (7.0%). The majority were women (91.8%); their predominant symptom was from the gastrointestinal system in 56 (76.7%). This group had a greater use of clinical studies and referrals to other services (mean 1.1 vs. 0.5; p <0.0001 and 0.6 vs. 0.8; p < 0.01, respectively).

Conclusions:

The prevalence of medically unexplained physical symptoms was low, but with a greater impact on some health services. This could represent an overload in medical costs.

Keywords : Somatization disorder; somatization; health care institutions; health care services; primary health care; family medicine ambulatory care; physician-patient relations.

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