Objective: The objective was to explore patient characteristics and 10-year outcome of sick leave and work disability for patients with recent-onset multiple medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) and persistent somatoform disorders (SD).
Method: Consecutive patients consulting their family physician (FP) completed a preconsultation questionnaire on symptoms and mental illness (n=1785). The main problem was categorized by the FP after the consultation, and a stratified subsample was examined using a standardized diagnostic interview (n=701). Patients were grouped into three cohorts: recent onset of multiple MUS (n=84); Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, persistent SD (n=183); and reference group with well-defined physical disease according to FP (n=833). Register data on sick leave and disability pension were obtained.
Results: At index consultation, disability pension was received by 8.3% (n=7) in the recent-onset multiple MUS group, 19.1% (n=35) in the SD group and 3.5% (n=29) in the reference group. Both the recent-onset multiple MUS group [hazard ratio (HR)=2.28, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.14-4.55] and the SD group (HR=3.26, 95% CI:1.93-5.51) had increased risk of new disability pension awards. Furthermore, the SD group had increased risk of sick leave.
Conclusions: Both recent-onset and persistent MUS have significant long-term impact on patient functioning in regard to working life; this calls for early recognition and adequate management of MUS in primary care.
Keywords: Classification; Medically unexplained symptoms; Primary health care; Sick leave; Somatoform disorders.
Copyright © 2014 The Author. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.