Background: Patients presenting with multiple symptoms represent a substantial part of a GP's total work load. At the same time, these patients account for the majority of the people on long-term sick-leave in Sweden today.
Objective: The aim of this study was to explore GPs' perceptions and ways of managing patients with medically unexplained symptoms (MUS).
Methods: Five focus group discussions were conducted with a total of 27 GPs. In the collection and analysis of data, a phenomenographic approach was used.
Results: The GPs described how they used four different approaches to manage patients with MUS: a biomedical, a psychological, an educational and a psychosocial approach. Different approaches were used, depending on the patient and the situation, and the GPs even switched approach when working with the same patient.
Conclusions: In their work with patients with MUS, GPs need support and further training to improve the way the biomedical frame of reference is integrated with the humanistic perspective.