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As commissioning arrangements in England change, there is a real
opportunity to provide needs-led integrated services for people
with physical symptoms where the underlying medical and
psychological causation is incompletely or poorly understood. This
report, written by members of the College and the RCGPs, is a
practical guide to the management of individuals with physical
symptoms and an associated psychological component. It focuses upon
the person, the practitioner and the process. It is jargon-free,
yet full of useful professional guidance and advice.
Physical illness is stressful and places
great demands on patients and their families. A GP is usually the
first health professional to whom people turn when they develop
symptoms. Careful and sensitive handling of such consultations can
result in positive outcomes with the resolution of symptoms and the
person feeling understood.
Liaison psychiatrists specialise in the
interface between physical and psychological illness. They have
expertise in the treatment of psychological symptoms that develop
in the context of physical disease and also physical symptoms for
which there does not appear to be an underlying organic explanation
(so-called ‘medically unexplained symptoms’). Liaison psychiatry
services can provide valuable support to GPs, pre-hospital care and
out of hospital work in addition to their work in hospitals.
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