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'Worried Well' Often Ignore Negative Test Results: Study
Date:2/26/2013

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- One in six people worries that they're sick even though their symptoms don't signal disease, and often these patients aren't swayed by tests that show they're fine, Scottish researchers report.

These patients continue to worry about being ill, and ask for more tests or that the same tests be done again, the researchers said.

"I was surprised that a lot of primary care doctors tend to order tests, even if there is not a substantial basis for them, in the hopes they would reassure patients and lessen their worry," said Dr. Bryan Bruno, acting chair of psychiatry at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Many patients suffer from hypochondria, which is the belief that physical symptoms are signs of a serious illness even when there's no medical evidence to support that belief, explained Bruno, who was not involved with the study.

"There are a lot of patients with hypochondriac tendencies and they tend to worry a lot, and negative test results often don't resolve their worry or show any kind of improvement in their symptoms of hypochondria," Bruno added.

The new report was published in the Feb. 25 online edition of JAMA Internal Medicine.

For the study, Dr. Alexandra Rolfe, from the University of Edinburgh, and Dr. Christopher Burton, from the University of Aberdeen, collected data from 14 studies that included nearly 4,000 patients.

Rolfe and Burton found that diagnostic tests had no effect on patients' concern about being sick or their anxiety. In 10 of the studies, patients continued to have symptoms of their imaginary disease, the investigators found.

"Diagnostic tests for symptoms with a low risk of serious illness do little to reassure patients, decrease their anxiety or resolve their symptoms, although the tests may reduce further primary care visits," the researchers concluded.

The conseq
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