The concept of medically unexplained symptoms comprises a spectrum of disorders ranging from mild transitory illness to chronic disorders with severe disability. Many of the affected patients do not receive a correct diagnosis and undergo numerous fruitless investigations and attempts at treatment.
Clinicians must have theoretical knowledge about medically unexplained symptoms to be able to diagnose and manage patients presenting with such symptoms appropriately. Diagnosis is not merely the exclusion of serious physical diseases but also the simultaneous consideration of medically unexplained symptoms. Such assessment and proper management require good theoretical understanding of the problem, but currently the theoretical and practical training in medically unexplained symptoms is insufficient in most university curriculums and postgraduate training programs for general practitioners.7
We should offer the same professional management and quality of care to the many patients with medically unexplained symptoms as we offer to patients with explicable symptoms. Today this is not the case, and we need to bring existing evidence into medical education and to renew our management of patients with medically unexplained symptoms. In this process we must also be ready to adjust paradigms about good communication based on new evidence. This process should be driven by comprehensive research into patients with medically unexplained symptoms and by health services research exploring the best possible implementation of appropriate management strategies.
Translational medicine is a discipline in medical research and it aims to expedite the discovery of new diagnostic tools and treatments by using a multi-disciplinary, highly collaborative, "bench-to-bedside" approach. Translational medicine is focused on ensuring that proven strategies for disease treatment and prevention are actually implemented.