What term do you prefer to use to describe patients with medically
unexplained symptoms? I have used the "heartsink" term with family
medicine resident physicians when teaching them to do the Linking &
Reattribution intervention with MUS patients. I think it
is a useful term in helping the resident physician understand and cope
with her/his mixed emotions in caring for the high utilizing "worried
well" patient, but the term could easily be construed as demeaning and
insensitive. Thus, I am ambivalent about placing this term, but further
discussion is certainly warranted.
There are more pejorative terms than
"heartsink" out there such as "the "hateful patient" (Groves, 1978) or
"fat file" patient (Short, 1994). More recently, I have seen the term
"sick listing" (Nilsen et al., 2011) when describing the difficult or
challenging patient with medically unexplained symptoms.
What do others think is the preferred way of addressing patients with medically unexplained symptoms?
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