This guidance published by the Royal College of General Practitioners aims to support primary care staff to better manage patients presenting with physical symptoms which are not caused by physical disease or injury.
The guidance highlights the importance of clinicians trusting their own psychological abilities and the strengths of their therapeutic alliance with their patients. This would help achieve better concordance between addressing the patients’ fears and managing their own anxiety and uncertainty.
Despite having a strong suspicion that there is no serious medical problem, GPs worry about missing something serious and are often left with a sense of dissatisfaction with such cases. Patients may feel unsupported and confused. Such uncertainty often leads to extensive and unproductive investigations.
Key points for GPs
- People want to be taken seriously, show you believe them.
- Doctors can make a difference to the patient’s well-being even when their symptoms are unexplained.
- Sometimes the only “therapy” needed may be the strength of your doctor-patient relationship – continuity of care and the long-term relationship helps.
- Be explicit about your thoughts, your uncertainties and your expectations of referrals to specialist care