Frequent attender profiles: different clinical subgroups among frequent attender patients in primary care

J Psychosom Res. 1997 Feb;42(2):157-66. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3999(96)00287-5.


Psychiatric and physical morbidity among frequently attending patients in primary care is high. However, very few efforts have been made to sort out the complex patterns of problems these patients have. We developed a clinical grouping of these patients. Our sample consisted of 67 frequent attenders. The measures included physical and psychiatric illnesses, presenting symptoms, sociodemographic data, psychosocial situation, level of distress, global functioning, experienced life satisfaction, illness attribution, and current psychiatric treatment. We identified five groups with different profiles: (1) patients with entirely physical illnesses; (2) patients with clear psychiatric illnesses; (3) crisis patients; (4) chronically somatizing patients; and (5) patients with multiple problems. The grouping was based on multidimensional operational criteria. The majority in all groups attended for solely physical illnesses or symptoms suggesting different forms of somatization. Only a few patients were undergoing any psychiatric treatment. Differences between groups were found regarding sociodemographic factors, physical illnesses, global functioning, and satisfaction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Health Services Misuse*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Care Team
  • Personality Assessment
  • Primary Health Care
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / psychology
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology