The recognition and management of somatization: What is needed in primary care training

R. J. Goldberg, D. H. Novack, L. Gask

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This article addresses the medical education issues associated with teaching primary care residents about somatization. Specific training designed to recognize and manage somatization involves a hierarchical series of five knowledge domains with associated discrete skills. As a foundation, a biopsychosocial model must be embraced by the medical leadership of the training program. Second, because psychosocial stresses play a critical etiologic role in somatization, the ability to identify relevant psychosocial issues during medical interviewing is a fundamental skill. Third, basic psychiatric diagnostic areas (depression and anxiety) must be mastered as a prerequisite for identifying somatization. Specific interviewing and management techniques are reviewed, along with two current programmatic approaches. Finally, the concept of physician countertransference also must be explicitly addressed as part of the curriculum. Without assuring that these building blocks are in place, residents are likely to become overwhelmed by the management of somatizing patients and continue the pattern of frustration associated with these patients.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)55-61
    Number of pages6
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1992


    • Curriculum
    • education: Family Practice
    • Humans
    • Internship and Residency
    • diagnosis: Somatoform Disorders


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