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May 7, 1973

Dizziness and Headache: Another Look at Complaint-centered Medicine

Author Affiliations

Mount Sinai School of Medicine of the City University of New York New York

JAMA. 1973;224(6):897-898. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220200053018

A tendency to expansion in the number and variety of "complaint-centered" clinics is evident. This approach is based on the belief that increased efficiency and better results can be obtained in this way. Careful analysis of the trend, however, reveals it to be a symptom of the breakdown of proper health-care delivery mechanisms, and in itself potentially dangerous and inherently inefficient.

"Treat the person, not the symptom"; "maintain health instead of treating illness." Slogans such as these represent good principles and seem so patently unchallengeable that they might be the basic currency for almost any medical graduation speech or presidential address. In spite of this, however, we see a paradoxical persistence, even expansion of the tendency to focus not only on specific illnesses, but even on specific complaints.

A recent news release hailed the activity of a new "headache clinic" (New York Post, April 13, 1972, p 28) a scientific