Publication details

Common therapeutic strategies in psychological treatments for medically unexplained somatic symptoms



Year of publication 2020
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Psychotherapy Research
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Keywords medically unexplained somatic symptoms; psychological treatments; common factors; clinical strategies; qualitative analysis
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Description Objective: Medically unexplained somatic symptoms (MUSS) represent a frequent complaint in health care services. While psychological treatments have demonstrated some effect in patients with MUSS, further progress may be achieved by a synthesis of clinical strategies used in diverse treatment models. The aim of this study was to identify clinical strategies shared across multiple psychological treatments intended for the treatment of adult patients with MUSS. Method: Descriptions of psychological treatments for patients with MUSS were searched in the PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, and Medline databases and manually. N= 135 resources met inclusion criteria and were subjected to qualitative analysis. Results: Similarities across treatments were captured in 8 broad categories and 18 subcategories that covered aspects of the therapeutic relationship, specific skills (bodily, emotional, and relational) for patients to develop, search for the meaning of symptoms, and the orientation on life beyond symptoms. Conclusions: Despite the differences in technique,it was possible to identify common therapeutic strategies in psychological treatments for patients with MUSS. These overarching treatment strategies, many of which have already obtained empirical support, may inspire further research and the development of comprehensive treatments with enhanced efficacy. Limitations of the present study include the lack of focus on specific syndromes.
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