Symptoms attributed to the environment--a systematic, interdisciplinary assessment

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2004 Jul;207(3):245-54. doi: 10.1078/1438-4639-00286.


Problem: To assess symptoms attributed to the environment from an interdisciplinary perspective and to evaluate the plausibility of the participants' individual theory of a causal relationship between exposure and health impairment.

Method: We assessed the medical, psychiatric and environmental background in every participant in an environmental medicine project and discussed the explanatory value of our findings for each reported symptom.

Results: Every second participant had at least one symptom that could be plausibly explained by simultaneously occurring medical, psychological or environmental findings. In 40% of the participants the research team rated the association between an environmental exposure and the health complaints to be 'plausible'. Psychiatric disorders were frequent, but did not exclude environmentally caused symptoms.

Conclusion: Only an interdisciplinary structure including medical, psychiatric and environmental expertise is likely to adequately diagnose and advise persons with environmentally related symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Counseling
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Illness / complications
  • Environmental Illness / diagnosis*
  • Environmental Illness / etiology*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / etiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Care Team