Consultation-liaison psychiatrists' management of somatoform disorders

G. C. Smith, D. M. Clarke, D. Handrinos, A. Dunsis, D. P. McKenzie

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30 Citations (Scopus)


The authors studied interventions recommended by consultation-liaison (C-L) psychiatrists when they diagnosed somatoform disorder prospectively in a cohort of 4,401 consecutive inpatients referred to the C-L psychiatry service of a general teaching hospital, using standardized MICROCARES methodology. A DSM-III-R somatoform disorder was diagnosed in 2.9%, somatoform pain disorder in 1.4%, conversion disorder in 0.7%, hypochondriasis or somatization disorder undifferentiated/not otherwise specified in 0.6%, and somatization disorder in 0.2%. In 3.4%, somatoform disorder was considered a differential diagnosis. Psychiatric comorbidity included mood disorder (39%), personality disorder (37%), and psychoactive substance use disorder (19%). Recommendations were made about antidepressants in 40% of the patients, anxiolytics in 18%, sedatives in 18%, and antipsychotics in 10%. Psychiatrists recommended the following: more laboratory tests for 14%; additional medical/surgical consultations for 11%; an increase in the vigor of medical treatment for 13%; and psychological treatment for 76%; also they stressed an earlier discharge of 16%. Psychiatrists were more likely to request a prolongation of inpatient stay for patients with comorbid somatoform, mood, anxiety, and personality disorder. Differences in characteristics and treatment of the subgroups tended to be consistent with their constructs and comorbid psychiatric diagnoses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-489
Number of pages9
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000

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