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The Clinical Domains of Psychosomatic Medicine

J Clin Psychiatry 2005;66(7):849-858

Background: The psychosomatic evidence that has consolidated over the past decades provides the ideal background for dealing with the new needs that emerge in current medical practice.

Method: A review of the psychosomatic literature, using both MEDLINE and manual searches, was performed. Search terms were psychosomatic, psychosomatic medicine, mind-body medicine, and biopsychosocial. Medical journals and books in English were also searched manually. Articles, with particular reference to review articles, which were judged to be relevant to clinical practice, were selected.

Results: The following aspects were found of particular clinical interest: assessment of psychosocial factors affecting individual vulnerability (life events, chronic stress and allostatic load, well-being, and health attitudes), evaluation of psychosocial correlates of medical disease (psychiatric disturbances, psychological symptoms, illness behavior, and quality of life), application of psychological therapies to medical disease (lifestyle modification, treatment of psychiatric comorbidity, and abnormal illness behavior).

Conclusion: A psychosomatic approach may be crucial in managing patients with unexplained somatic symptoms and in identifying psychological distress that cannot be diagnosed by psychiatric categories. Furthermore, it may contribute to recovery and rehabilitation by specific interventions. ​