Teaching medical students about medically unexplained illnesses: A preliminary study

By FRED FRIEDBERG, STEPHANIE J. SOHL, & PETER J. HALPERIN

2008; 30: 618–621

Fred Friedberg, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Putnam Hall, South Campus, Stony Brook, New York, 11794-8790, USA. Tel: 631-632-8252; fax: 631-632-3165; email: Fred.Friedberg@stonybrook.edu

Background: This study examined how an interactive seminar focusing on two medically unexplained illnesses, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia, influenced medical student attitudes toward CFS, a more strongly stigmatized illness.

Methods: Forty-five fourth year medical students attended a 90 minute interactive seminar on the management of medically unexplained illnesses that was exemplified with CFS and fibromyalgia. A modified version of the CFS attitudes test was administered immediately before and after the seminar.

Results: Pre-seminar assessment revealed neutral to slightly favorable toward CFS. At the end of the seminar, significantly more favorable attitudes were found toward CFS in general (t (42)¼2.77; P < 0.01) and for specific items that focused on (1) supporting more CFS research funding (t (42)¼4.32; P < 0.001; (2) employers providing flexible hours for people with CFS (t (42)¼3.52, P < 0.01); and (3) viewing CFS as not primarily a psychological disorder (t (42)¼2.87, P < 0.01). Thus, a relatively brief exposure to factual information on specific medically unexplained illnesses was associated with more favorable attitudes toward CFS in fourth year medical students.

Conclusion: This type of instruction may lead to potentially more receptive professional attitudes toward providing care to these underserved patients.

2017-11-28T10:51:11-08:00Saturday, February 27, 2016|Integrative Medicine HPCAE|