Diagnoses of Patients with Severe Subjective Health Complaints in Scandinavia: A Cross Sectional Study
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Background. A diagnosis is the basis of medical action, the key to various social privileges and national sick leave statistics. The objectives of this study were to investigate which diagnoses general practitioners in Scandinavia give patients with severe subjective health complaints, and what kind of treatments they suggested.
Methods. One hundred and twenty-six self-selected general practitioners in Scandinavia diagnosed nine patients, presented as video vignettes, in a cross-sectional study. The main outcome measures were primary, secondary, and tertiary diagnoses.
Results. The nine patients got between 13 and 31 different primary diagnoses and a large variety of secondary and tertiary diagnoses. Fifty-eight percent of the general practitioners chose different primary and secondary diagnoses, indicating that they judged the patients to have multimorbid complaints. The most commonly recommended treatment was referral to a psychologist, a mix of psychological and physical treatments, or treatment by the general practitioner.
Conclusion. Scandinavian general practitioners give a large variety of symptom diagnoses, mainly psychological and general and unspecified, to patients with severe subjective health complaints. Referral to a psychologist or a mix of psychological or physical treatments was most commonly suggested to treat the patients.