Functional neurological disorder: Engaging patients in treatment

Epilepsy Behav Rep. 2021 Nov 14:16:100499. doi: 10.1016/j.ebr.2021.100499. eCollection 2021.


Patients with a functional neurological disorder can be difficult to engage in treatment. The reasons for this are complex and may be related to physician, patient and health care system issues. Providers contribute to difficulties in treatment engagement by giving confusing explanations for the patient symptoms, stigmatizing patients, and not allowing patients time to voice their questions and concerns. Patient factors include a lack of engagement after an explanation of the diagnosis, resistance to treatment, family/work dynamics and prior negative experiences with the health care system. The scarcity of providers skilled in the treatment of functional neurological disorder is yet another hurdle. This article will define these barriers and discuss good clinical practices to help improve outcomes by tackling those challenges and discuss why for many patients an integrated care team approach is needed.

Keywords: Communication; Functional neurologic disorder; Treatment.