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Clinical Crossroads
May 27, 1998

A 37-Year-Old Man With Multiple Somatic Complaints, 1 Year Later

Author Affiliations

From the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 330 Brookline Ave, LY318, Boston, MA 02215.

JAMA. 1998;279(20):1658. doi:10.1001/jama.279.20.1658

At the Medicine Grand Rounds held in March 1997, Dr Arthur Barsky discussed the management of multiple somatic complaints in a 37-year-old man who is self-employed.1 Mr H began to experience multiple physical complaints during adolescence. Since that time he has visited doctors frequently for a wide variety of symptoms accompanied by intense anxiety and, at times, mild depression. His doctors, including Dr Y, a medical resident, felt the complaints were primarily psychosomatic in origin, and multiple medical evaluations failed to reveal significant organic findings. Dr Barsky discussed the epidemiology and mechanisms of symptom formation in patients like Mr H, focusing on "care, rather than cure," and outlining an approach to management that frequently proves worthwhile to the patient and clinician. We asked the patient and his doctor to comment on the year that has passed.

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