Understanding the "worried well".

The burden of giving a diagnosis to patients who have no discernible clinical findings is often frustrating and anxiety provoking for the primary care clinician. This frustration is magnified when that patient returns on a frequent basis. These patients have been called the worried well, but there is no good CPT code for this diagnosis. Smith et al (1) have taken a novel approach to evaluating patients who are frequent users of primary care services. In this preliminary report they develop a classification process that helps define the distinction between somatization disorder and the "worried well." In the process, they give the reader a longitudinal look at this group of patients.

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