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General practitioners experiences with provision of healthcare to patients with self reported MCS





Scand J Prim Health Care. 2009;27(3):148-52.


General practitioners' experiences with provision of healthcare to patients with self-reported multiple chemical sensitivity.


Skovbjerg S, Johansen JD, Rasmussen A, Thorsen H, Elberling J. Department of Dermatology, the Danish Research Centre for Chemical Sensitivities, Gentofte Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



OBJECTIVE: To describe general practitioners' (GPs') evaluation of and management strategies in relation to patients who seek medical advice because of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS).


DESIGN: A nationwide cross-sectional postal questionnaire survey. The survey included a sample of 1000 Danish GPs randomly drawn from the membership list of GPs in the Danish Medical Association.


SETTING: Denmark.


RESULTS: Completed questionnaires were obtained from 691 GPs (69%). Within the last 12 months 62.4% (n = 431) of the GPs had been consulted by at least one patient with MCS. Of these, 55.2% of the GPs evaluated the patients' complaints as chronic and 46.2% stated that they were rarely able to meet the patients' expectations for healthcare. The majority, 73.5%, had referred patients to other medical specialties. The cause of MCS was perceived as multi-factorial by 64.3% of the GPs, as somatic/biologic by 27.6%, and as psychological by 7.2%. Partial or complete avoidance of chemical exposures was recommended by 86.3%. Clinical guidelines, diagnostic tools, or more insight in the pathophysiology were requested by 84.5% of the GPs.


CONCLUSION: Despite the lack of formal diagnostic labelling the patient with MCS is well known by GPs. The majority of the GPs believed that MCS primarily has a multi-factorial explanation. However, perceptions of the course of the condition and management strategies differed, and many GPs found it difficult to meet the patients' expectations for healthcare. The majority of the GPs requested more knowledge and clinical guidelines for the management of this group of patients.


PMID: 19452353 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]










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  • As a multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) sufferer in the UK I am impressed by this survey of Danish GPs. Although awareness among GPs in the UK is growing the only referral I received for MCS was to a psychiatrist who listed my condition as "Beliefs about chemical sensitivity" in my medical notes (this was 5-6 years ago). If this study is accurate (it has an ample sample size of 691 GPs) then Danish doctors are clearly more accepting of MCS as a genuine physical disease with only 7.2% believing it to be psychological in origin. It is also heartening that the GPs acknowledge their own shortcomings in their ability to meet patients' needs and also that they requested more knowledge and clinical guidelines so that they may offer more help to MCS patients. Let's hope the attitude of Danish GPs soon spreads to other nations.

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