The Role of Psychological Factors in Medical Presentations
- Cite this article as:
- O’Donohue, W. & Cucciare, M.A. J Clin Psychol Med Settings (2005) 12: 13. doi:10.1007/s10880-005-0908-x
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Research shows that a large number of medical presentations do not result in a medical diagnosis but rather are related to behavioral health problems. Factors such as age, lower education and economic status, health beliefs, and medical and psychological factors are linked to high medical service utilization. Research consistently shows that patients with psychological problems use more services than those without diagnosable psychological problems. The purpose of this paper is to provide a more detailed analysis of the roles of psychological factors in medical presentations. We present three kinds of pathways by which psychological factors lead to medical presentations. These include the (1) primary or direct medical presentation of a clinical problem, (2) secondary presentation or the impact of the clinical problem on patients’ general physical, psychological, or psychosocial health, and (3) the complex presentation or the impact of multiple diagnoses on the presentation of the clinical problem. Examples of each of these pathways are presented for each axis of the DSM-IV.