Effectiveness of psychiatric intervention with somatization disorder patients: improved outcomes at reduced costs

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 1994 Nov;16(6):381-7. doi: 10.1016/0163-8343(94)90113-9.


In order to determine the health effects of an intervention that reduces the cost of care for somatization disorder (SD) patients, 59 primary care physicians were randomized to receive a psychiatric consultation letter providing treatment recommendations for 73 patients either at baseline or the end of the year-long study. Seventy of these patients (96%) were followed every 4 months for 1 year by a research assistant blind to randomization. A year following the intervention, patients of experimental physicians reported greater physical capacity than patients of control physicians (mean difference = 17.9, 95% CI 1.0-34.9) with a $466 reduction (95% CI $132-$699) in health care charges. In addition to a net 21% reduction in health care charges for the typical SD patient, the consultation letter improved physical functioning in a group of highly impaired subjects.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Prognosis
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Somatoform Disorders / economics*
  • Somatoform Disorders / therapy*