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GP-patient gap on arm care

Patients are much less happy with the outcome of GP consultations for arm pain than for other conditions, UK research shows.

A survey of 2,632 working-age patients showed one in five were unhappy with the level of care they received when presenting for upper limb pain.

But those with a tendency

to somatise were most dis-

satisfied, the results published online in Family Practice

showed.

A negative outlook about the prognosis for arm pain was found to be common, with a third or more patients believing it would last longer than three months and neglect could lead to permanent harm.

Study leader Dr Keith Pal-mer, clinical scientist and consultant occupational physician at the MRC epidemiology resource centre at the University of Southampton, said the results reflected a 'mismatch' between patients' and doctors' perspectives, although he admitted it was difficult for GPs to reassure patients with no obvious sign of ill-health.

'Every GP tries to be as sympathetic as possible,' he said, 'but sometimes they come across patients where there is no obvious pathology but a level of distress out of proportion to their condition.

'It's very difficult to reassure, and you need to try to get a better match between the patient's perspective and the doctor's.'

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