Merck Manual

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Psychological Factors Affecting Other Medical Conditions

By

Joel E. Dimsdale

, MD, University of California, San Diego

Last full review/revision Aug 2019| Content last modified Aug 2019
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NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: Click here for the Consumer Version

Psychological factors affecting other medical conditions is diagnosed when psychologic or behavioral factors adversely affect the course or outcome of an existing medical condition.

Patients have one or more clinically significant psychologic or behavior factors that adversely affect an existing medical disorder (eg, diabetes mellitus, heart disease) or symptom (eg, pain). These factors may increase the risk of suffering, death, or disability; aggravate an underlying medical condition; or result in hospitalization or emergency department visit. Abnormal psychologic or behavioral responses to a medical condition that do not affect medical outcome are considered an adjustment disorder.

Psychologic or behavior factors that can adversely affect a medical disorder include

  • Denial of the significance or severity of symptoms

  • Poor adherence to prescribed testing and treatment

Patients may present as treatment failures or with aggravation of medical conditions associated with stress (eg, Takotsubo cardiomyopathy).

Patient education and psychotherapeutic intervention can help.

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NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: Click here for the Consumer Version
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