Aims To pilot a six session outpatient intervention run by neurologists for patients with medically unexplained symptoms. To assess the short-term outcomes of such an intervention.
Methods Ten patients diagnosed with functional symptoms were accepted from within the neurology service, following investigation for organic pathology. Patients were invited to participate in a series of six outpatient consultations with a neurologist over an average of 12 weeks. Their diagnosis and its potential aetiology were discussed and practical interventions such as graded exercises for patients with motor deficits were advised. Patients were followed up 8 weeks postintervention. The General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) and Hospital Anxiety and Depression (HAD) questionnaires were used preintervention and postintervention to assess mental health.
Results Seven patients out of an initial 10 completed the intervention. GHQ and HAD scores preintervention reflected a high symptom burden. GHQ and HAD scores improved in five of the seven patients who completed the intervention, correlating with a clinical improvement in their symptoms.
Conclusions Patients with functional symptoms are likely to suffer from co-existing anxiety and depression. Outpatient intervention has the potential to improve these symptoms and thereby improve function in this otherwise challenging patient group.
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