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Doctors, med students face higher risks of suicide

July 11, 2019

Participants reported an average of 16.9 disability days in the previous four weeks, including 5.7 days in bed and 11.2 days when they reduced their activities by 50 percent or more. Health care usage was high: 32 percent of patients reported three to five outpatient visits in the previous three months, 28 percent reported six to 10 visits and 26 percent reported more than 10 visits. More than one-third (38 percent) were hospitalized at least once and one-third visited the emergency department one or more times.

On a scale of zero to 44, with 44 being the worst, participants had an average somatic symptom burden score of 18.3. A higher score was associated with education, employment status, income and an emergency department or mental health visit in the previous three months but not with sex, race or marital status. For every five-unit increase in somatic symptom burden score, the probability of having at least 14 days of disability in the previous 28 days increased by 50 percent.

"This study strengthens the case for improving the recognition and treatment of somatic symptoms in patients with cancer," the authors conclude. "Given the strong association with disability and the high prevalence of many types of symptoms, recognizing and managing somatic symptoms may be important in improving quality of life and functional status regardless of type or phase of cancer."

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals