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Psychiatric Diagnoses of Patients Presenting with Functional Somatic Symptoms in a Primary Care Clinic at a University Teaching Hospital in Nigeria

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DOI: 10.4236/ojd.2015.43004    2,904 Downloads   3,430 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

Background: A number of patients that attend primary care medical settings present with distressing bodily complaints which are not attributable to organic (physical) pathology. The difficulties in diagnosing and treating such patients have been observed by many Health Care Practitioners. This study assesses the presence of psychological conditions and attempts to make psychiatric diagnoses (using a standardized diagnostic instrument) in patients presenting with Functional Somatic Symptoms (FSS) in a primary care clinic at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital. Method: The study was carried out at the General Out Patients Clinic (GOPC) of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH). It was a cross-sectional study of a convenience sample of 100 randomly selected patients presenting with Functional Somatic Symptoms. Those who consented filled the modified version of the Enugu Somatization Scale and were interviewed with the Schedule for Clinical Assessments in Neuropsychiatry (SCAN) for possible psychiatric diagnoses. Results: While 41 of the selected patients were males, 59 were females. Their mean age was 38.5 (SD = 12.2). Frequent headaches and body heat (internal heat) were the most prevalent symptoms in the patients. ICD-10 psychiatry diagnoses using the SCAN were made in 79% of the patients studied. Depressive disorders (diagnosed in 48% of the patients) and anxiety disorders (in 21%) were the most common diagnoses. Older patients were mainly diagnosed of depressive disorders (p = 0.016) whereas younger patients tended to receive diagnoses of anxiety disorders (p = 0.039). Conclusion: Patients presenting with FSS may have diagnosable psychiatric disorders which if not recognized would go untreated. Psychiatric referral may therefore reduce the sufferings of the patients.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Okafor, C. , Udofia, O. and Ekpe, E. (2015) Psychiatric Diagnoses of Patients Presenting with Functional Somatic Symptoms in a Primary Care Clinic at a University Teaching Hospital in Nigeria. Open Journal of Depression, 4, 31-40. doi: 10.4236/ojd.2015.43004.

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