Sufferers of undefined symptoms: a challenge for medical attention?

Carla Ribeiro Guedes Maria Inês Nogueira Kenneth R. de Camargo Jr. About the authors

Sufferers of undefined symptoms - patients who have symptoms without an organic lesion or a recognized link - represent a significant portion of the outpatient clinic and can be considered an "anomaly" to the biomedical model, since it neglects the subjective dimension of illness. The qualified service for this demand is even today a challenge for medical attention. This paper presents the main strategies used by physicians of different specialties, belonging to the hospital in a medical school in Rio de Janeiro, to cope with this demand. From a qualitative analysis of ten interviews with these doctors, we found that most of them have limited and not resolving strategies to approach these patients. One of the main conclusions of this study is that such difficulties can be tied to medical education, as the issues of doctor-patient relationship, particularly with regard to subjective aspects and the uniqueness of human suffering, are not valued in education nor in medical practice in general.

anomaly; biomedicine; undefined symptoms; subjectivity; medical practice

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